Officer Charles Henry Walker listens on the telephone circa 1949 in the U.S. Navy's Combat Information Center. Charles spent 29 years of active duty with the Navy and retired with the rank of naval commander. His wife of 70 years -- Helen Corinne "Jackie" Reynolds -- was of the family of Cyrus and Elizabeth "Lizzie" (Miner) Lindley of Washington, PA.
As the threat of World War II loomed, Charles was assigned to the USS Arctic, a fully armed refrigerator cargo vessel. On the fateful day of Dec. 7, 1941, he and the Arctic were in Maui, Hawaii, where the ship had been de-magnetized to prevent the hull from attracting underwater mines and was in preparation for a voyage to San Francisco. As the ship’s radioman, Charles received an urgent message about the surprise Japanese attack on battleship row in Honolulu. General quarters was sounded, with all available men ordered to battle stations and all guns immediately loaded. Unidentified aircraft could be seen in the distance. In a memoir, Charles writes about the decisions facing the ship’s captain – whether to head out to sea and risk detection – or remain in port – while the Arctic maintained radio silence. The captain’s final decision was to say put, with guns ready, in the event further action was needed.
During the Korean War, Charles served as a communication officer for Task Force 77. He also helped to develop the first guided missile school in Quantico, VA and later held the role of commanding officer of the Naval Reserve Training Center in Colorado Springs. After retirement, he obtained a degree in history from Colorado College, paid for by the G.I. Bill, and went on to teach history in the Denver Public Schools.
Following Charles' death in 2004, his daughter Charlotte Zoe Walker retyped his lengthy manuscript autobiography, which he had penned after seeing the popular television mini-series Roots. She had it published under the title Roots and Consequences (Leaf & Tendril Books, June 30, 2017). The book recounts the absorbing story of Charles' difficult childhood in rural North Carolina, as well as his many years of service in the Navy, rich with human interest and historical detail.