This Date in History : May 13,1943
First Lieutenant Ken WalshKenneth Walsh
enlisted in the Marine Corps in December 1933.
Ken served aboard the aircraft carriers Yorktown, Wasp, and Ranger
as an enlisted aviation mechanic and radioman for four years.
Assigned to fighters with VMF-121, Ken was promoted to a Warrant Officer
in May 1942 and then transferred to VMF-124 and was commissioned as
a second lieutenant. VMF-224 was sent to the Guadalcanal in the Solomon
islands in February 1943. Flying the first F4U Corsairs to see combat,
Ken downed two Mitsubishi Zeke fighters and a Aichi Val Dive bomber on April 1st.
The scene above depicts Kenís forth victory on May 13th near the Russell
islands. Where he shot down 3 Zekes to become the Marine Corps first Ace.
Ken scored multiple victories on almost all of his combat missions
and by August 1943 his record of victories totaled 20.
Returning to the States after flying three combat tours,
He was awarded this nations highest award, the Medal of Honor
by President Roosevelt on the 14th of February 1944.Citation read:
For extraordinary heroism and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty as a pilot
in Marine Fighting Squadron 124 in aerial combat against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands area.
Determined to thwart the enemy's attempt to bomb Allied ground forces and shipping at Vella Lavella on 15 August 1943,
1st Lt. Walsh repeatedly dived his plane into an enemy formation outnumbering his own division 6 to 1
and although his plane was hit numerous times, shot down 2 Japanese dive bombers and 1 fighter.
After developing engine trouble on 30 August during a vital escort mission, 1st Lt. Walsh landed his mechanically disabled plane
at Munda, quickly replaced it with another, and proceeded to rejoin his flight over Kahili.
Separated from his escort group when he encountered approximately 50 Japanese Zeros, he unhesitatingly attacked,
striking with relentless fury in his lone battle against a powerful force. He destroyed 4 hostile fighters
before cannon shellfire forced him to make a dead-stick landing off Vella Lavella where he was later picked up.
His valiant leadership and his daring skill as a flier served as a source of confidence
and inspiration to his fellow pilots and reflect the highest credit upon the U.S. Naval Service.
Other Navy awards: Distinguished Flying Cross with 5 Gold Stars.
After serving as an instructor, Ken was back flying the Corsair and increased
his score to 21 bringing down a Zeke Kamikaze 15 miles north of Okinawa.
Kenneth Walsh remained in the Marine Corps for a full career, flying transports in Korea
and retiring as a lieutenant colonel in February 1962. He was a frequent participant in history seminars
and often assisted researchers and historians interested in the Pacific War.
He died at age 81 from a heart attack. He left a widow, Beaulah and a son.
Lt.Col.Walsh was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.