Retired U.S. Army COL Conrad “Connie” Walker died 1 Jun 14 in San Antonio at age 82. His family said the death was the result of Agent Orange-related illnesses. Chaplain Walker was a long-time chaplain to the DUSTOFF Association, penned the DUSTOFF prayer, and performed many of our reunion memorial services.
He gave up a promising sports career in pursuit of a higher calling, becoming a chaplain with the 101st Airborne Division and 173rd Airborne Brigade. Chaplain Connie Walker was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star for Valor, Legion of Merit, and Purple Heart for his pastoral missions under hostile conditions in Vietnam. He was a Master Parachutist, having made over 600 jumps with the troops, including one combat jump, earning him the nickname of “The Leapin’ Deacon.” His wife of 60 years, Joan “Ann” Walker, said he even modified his jump routine for his faith, replacing the numerical countdown with “Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Amen” before leaping.
As a noncombatant chaplain, he only carried a machete. When he accompanied a relief platoon to the scene of a firefight in Vietnam on 29 Jun 66, he earned the Silver Star for gallantry in combat for helping the medic bring the wounded men back from the direct line of fire, despite machine gun fire intermittently raking the area.
J. Walker Winslow, co-author of the book about chaplain Walker writes, “You will smile and be uplifted as Connie displays his joyous sense of humor by sharing anecdotes of the growing of a legend. Your heart will grow heavy as the veil of wartime is lifted ever so slightly. Conrad Walker is a minister, shepherd, soldier, hero, devoted husband, and father to five grown children. He has been labeled a legend by the hundreds of ‘Pups’ that he has mentored, and is admired by those who had the good fortune to have been ministered to by this remarkable man of God.”