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First Name: Kenneth

Last Name: Walsh

Birthplace: Brooklyn, NY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Ambrose

Date of Birth: 24 November 1916

Date of Death: 30 July 1998

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Years Served: 1933 - 1962
Kenneth Ambrose Walsh

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


Kenneth Ambrose Walsh

Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Ambrose Walsh was a U.S. Marine officer and aviator who received the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during World War II. He was the fourth ranked U.S. Marine Corps fighter ace in World War II with a record of 21 enemy planes destroyed.

Kenneth Ambrose Walsh was born on 24 November 1916 in Brooklyn, NY. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on 15 December 1933, at age 17, becoming a mechanic and radioman. Upon receiving his Wings of Gold in April 1937 he was still a Private, but was promoted to Corporal soon thereafter. He flew scout-observation aircraft over the next four years before assignment to VMF-121 in North Carolina. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was a Technical Sergeant, becoming a Warrant Officer in May 1942, and was commissioned a year later. He was also one of a handful of Marine aviators qualified as an aircraft carrier landing signal officer.

Assigned to VMF-124, Walsh was one of the most experienced pilots in the Corps' first Vought F4U Corsair squadron. The unit arrived at Guadalcanal in February 1943 and was immediately committed to combat. He claimed his first three Japanese planes on 1 April 1943 and two more in his next combat on 13 May 1943, becoming the first Corsair ace.

Walsh brought his score to 20 by the end of August 1943, including two combat missions over the Solomon Islands that earned him the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, pilot in Marine Fighting Squadron 124, U.S. Marine Corps.

Place and date: Solomon Islands area, 15 and 30 August 1943.

Citation: 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.

He was presented the Medal of Honor by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on 8 February 1944.

He returned to combat in 1945, flying with VMF-222, scoring his last kill at Okinawa on 22 June 1945.

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.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Distinguished Flying Cross with 6 Gold Stars

Death and Burial

Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Ambrose Walsh died on 30 July 1998 at age 81 from a heart attack. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in 65-2996.

He left a widow, Beulah, and a son.

Honoree ID: 85   Created by: MHOH




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