The Richmond Register

Local News

July 23, 2007

Alumni honor WWII pilot


An exhibit of Walker’s memorabilia included a photo with his mother Mary and brother Bill, also an Army officer, at a postwar victory banquet given at Richmond High for its alumni veterans.

“My mother used pieces of Frank’s and Bill’s uniforms to make a quilt,” said Collins, who lives in Orinda, Calif., and is 12 years younger than any of her siblings.

After the war, Frank Walker worked as a mail carrier and rarely spoke about his wartime service, Collins said.

“He didn’t talk about it much until my son Neil started asking him questions,” she said. As their conversations continued the two grew close and Walker presented Neil his pilot’s wings.

In more recent years, the honors have started rolling in for Walker. Earlier this year, he traveled to Washington, D.C., as the Tuskegee Airmen received a unit citation from President George W. Bush. In August 2006, he was honored by Gov. Ernie Fletcher at the Kentucky Veterans Welcome Home Celebration.

He also has received an honorary doctoral degree from the Tuskegee Institute and the city of Richmond has named a section of East Main Street the Frank D. Walker Parkway.

In addition to hearing from Collins and Spriggs, the RHS alumni were addressed by alumna Clara Mae Phelps-Broyles, class of 1953, a retired social worker from Hamilton, Ohio, and the granddaughter of Richmond agriculturalist and poet Henry Allen Lane.

The Tuskegee Airmen left “a proud legacy for their race, their community and their country,” she said.

Recalling “The Good Old Days,” Phelps-Broyles said, “Things were simpler then. Postage stamps were three cents, bread was 16 cents a loaf and gasoline was 20 cents a gallon. Running boards and fenders adorned automobiles. Movie tickets were 12 cents, but we sat in the balcony only. Can you still do the jitterbug?”

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