Sunday, May 20, 2007

Jeffrey D. Walker dies 'while conducting combat operations'

A sad but proud family gathered in Macon Friday to remember a fallen loved one.

Marine Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Davis Walker died from a sniper's bullet Monday about two months into his second tour of duty in Iraq.

The 21-year-old Marine's father, James Walker, said his son was born in Macon and spent most of his life in the city.

James Walker is a trucker. He was fueling his rig in Hopkinsville, Ky. when his daughter called Monday and asked if he was driving.

Then, Walker said, she told him Jeffrey Walker had been shot.

"I said 'is he OK?' And she didn't say anything, and that's when when I knew. I knew he was gone," Walker said.

Jeffrey Walker's great grandmother was concerned about her great grandson returning to Iraq, said her daughter, Anne Walker of Cordele.

"She said she didn't want him to go, and the last time she saw him, she said, 'I wish you wouldn't go,' and when I told her Monday after I'd gotten the phone call, she said, 'I knew it,'" Anne Walker said.

The family gathered Friday at the home of Joanne Whitener, one of the fallen Marine's aunts. Some of the family members got together with Jeffrey Walker at Whitener's home a few weeks before Walker returned to Iraq.

"The last time I saw him was right here," Whitener said. "We just sat around and visited for a while. He had a new car that he was showing off for my sons."

Another aunt, Jennifer Schiller, lives in Washington state. She doesn't get back to Georgia too often. She said her last visit was in December 2005, and she didn't see Jeffrey Walker at the time, because he was on his first deployment to Iraq at the time.

It hit hard when she learned her nephew had been killed.

"I actually called my husband, and he told me my mama was trying to get hold of me and that there was some bad news, that my nephew had been shot," Schiller said. "So I called my mama right away, and my brother told me."

Before Jeffrey went to Iraq the first time, his father asked him if he planned to be a career Marine. He didn't get an answer.

"After that first tour, he came back and I asked him again," James Walker said. "He said, 'No, I think I'm going to get out. I need to go home, and I need to support my child.'"

Jeffrey Walker's son, Conner, is five months old. If his grandfather has anything to do with, James Walker said Conner will get all the support he needs.

His father, David Walker of Griffin, said that he was told that his son was killed by a sniper.

"I know he died for a good cause, he fought for our freedom, and that's what his duty was, and that's what he chose to do."

A Marine Corps spokesman would not disclose details of his death, including whether he died in combat.

Richard Ulsh, a public affairs officer at Camp Lejeune, N.C., said Walker joined the Marines in September 2004, joined his current unit in April 2005 and had been in Iraq since earlier this year.

He said Walker was trained as a logistics vehicle systems operator.

According to Ulsh, Walker had been awarded the Iraq Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Sea Service Ribbon.

From WMAZ 13