Corporal George Thomas Walden, US Army, was born 6 January 1925 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He entered the US Army in February 1943 and trained as a paratrooper and demolition specialist. He was later assigned to the 596th Airborne Engineer Company, serving in France and Belgium during World War II. He was honorably discharged in 1946. Walden returned to Tulsa to his family and opened an auto body shop.
He was recalled for service in the Korean War in September 1950. On 13 February 1951, as a member of the 13th Engineer Combat Battalion, 7th Infantry Division, he became a prisoner of war (POW) after his unit was ambushed by Chinese Communist forces southeast of Wonju.
He was awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry. His citation reads in part: “Walden manned a truck mounted .50 caliber machine gun when his platoon was ambushed. He voluntarily stayed with his weapon till it was knocked out…While attempting repairs in the light of burning vehicles, he was severely wounded. He was credited with saving many American lives by his gallant and fearless action.”
Corporal Walden spent 999 days in North Korean POW camps until his release in a prisoner exchange in September 1953. He was discharged from the Army in 1958. His other awards include the Purple Heart, Prisoner of War Medal, and Korean Order of Military Merit 4th Class (Valor). Years later, he received the Oklahoma Cross of Valor.
Returning to his family and auto shop in Tulsa, Walden began volunteering, usually funding his own giving-back endeavors. He was a leader in several Veteran and civic organizations in Tulsa, including the Ex-American Prisoner of War Association. He worked with young people in American Legion youth shooting programs; spent years speaking about Veterans’ issues; and mentored Veterans inspiring them to become re-engaged with their families, communities and other Veterans. Walden died 29 September 2006 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.