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|49k||Merrit Cecil Walton was born at St. Paul, Minn., on 18 December 1915. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on 19 May 1937 at San Francisco, Calif., and initially served at San Diego, Calif., before going to the Asiatic Station that autumn. As a member of the 4th Marine Regiment, quartered in the International Settlement of Shanghai, China, Walton witnessed part of the bloody battle that raged for that key city between Chinese and Japanese forces and, as such, was an early observer of Japanese aggression in the Far East. During his tour in China, he received promotion to private, 1st class, on 10 May 1939.
Returning to the United States in the autumn of 1940, Walton served successive tours of duty at the Marine barracks at Mare Island, Vallejo, Calif.; the Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, N.J.; Quantico, Va.; and New River, N.C. He was promoted to sergeant on 1 August 1941 and platoon sergeant on 8 April 1942. Platoon Sergeant Walton was serving in a parachute battalion as part of the 1st Marine Division (Reinforced) that was selected to land in the Solomons in August 1942. Companies A and B of that battalion landed on the island of Gavutu on the morning of 7 August 1942. The enemy, already alterted by the landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi, met the marines' frontal assault with a withering fire.
Although fully aware of the danger involved, Platoon Sergeant Walton volunteered to reconnoiter the position of a troublesome Japanese machine gun nest threatening his platoon's right flank. Once he had spotted the weapon's location, he led a daring attack during which the leathernecks silenced the gun. Mortally wounded, however, Platoon Sergeant Walton died later that same day. Posthumous awards accorded the sergeant included the Navy Cross, the Purple Heart, and a share of the Presidential Unit Citation awarded the 1st Marine Division (Reinforced).
USS Walton (DE 361) (1944 - 1968) was the first ship to be named in his honor.
(Photo taken at Sutton, Nebr. during Sgt. Walton's last visit to his sister.)
|41k||20 May 1944: Orange, Tex. - Walton being side-launched.||Nick Tiberio|
|419k||circa 1962: Pearl Harbor, Hi. - An official U.S. Navy photo of Walton passing Hospital Point at Pearl Harbor.||Ken W. Sayers
|471k||circa 1962: off the coast of Pearl Harbor - An official U.S. Navy photo of Walton at sea. This photo and the one prior were probably taken during Walton's last deployment to the Pacific.|
|202k||3 October 1965: Alameda, Cal. - Walton in drydock during an overhaul at Todd Shipyard.|
|156k||1 February 1966: Treasure Island, Cal. - Walton moored at Treasure Island Naval Station, pier 14N.|
|138k||28 August 1966: Treasure Island, Cal. - Walton returning to Pier 14N after Cruise 8E-RC to San Diego.|
|198k||December 1966: Treasure Island, Cal. - Walton breasting out from Pier 14N.|
|162k||7 May 1967: San Francisco Bay - Walton serving as the flagship for San Francisco’s annual Blessing of the Fleet event in Racoon Strait. Note the Mk 32 torpedo tubes near the stack, which had been installed only a week earlier.|
|305k||7 May 1967: San Francisco Bay - Pleasure boats inspecting Walton while she served as the flagship for the Blessing of the Fleet festival in Racoon Strait.|
Pamphlet (circa 1961)
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