WALTER D HORNER - LCPL
- DATE OF BIRTH:
- December 27, 1945
- DATE OF CASUALTY:
- May 08, 1967
- BRANCH OF SERVICE:
- South Vietnam
Walter D. Horner was born on December 27, 1945. His home of record is Waretown, NJ. A 1964 graduate of Southern Regional High School, Manahawkin, Walter was a member of the school's varsity wrestling team and a four-year member of the competitive weightlifting club, the Surf Breakers.
His weightlifting career, under the direction of Thomas Snelgrove, was capped by winning the gold medal in the 172-pound weight class at the Middle Atlantic States Junior Olympics held in Virginia in the spring of 1964. This achievement brought recognition both upon him and his school, said Jim Hutchinson, assistant supervisor of athletics at the high school.
Walt always "gave 150 per cent to everything he did to be the very best", said Walt's brother, Barry. He was well liked and respected and was always ready to help anyone in need.
Walter enlisted in the US Marines Corps in January 1966. He was named "outstanding recruit" and was recipient of the Dress Blue Uniform Award when he graduated with Platoon 317 at Parris Island, SC, on March 8, 1966. This was followed by basic infantry training at Camp Lejeune, NC. He served in the US Marine Corps and attained the rank of Lance Corporal (LCPL).
His tour of duty in Vietnam began in September 1966.
Horner was killed in action on May 8, 1967, while fighting on Hill 881 at Khe Sanh, Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam. Walter died from a bullet wound to the chest, while volunteering for a reconnaissance mission during the Hill 881 assault. He was serving as a rifleman with Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment. His death came just a week before he was scheduled to be transferred to Okinawa. He was 21.
A large sorrowful family saw their son and brother buried with full military rites at the Cedar Grove Cemetery in Waretown. His parents, Russell J. and Hilda L. Horner, have since died and are buried near him. Also buried there are his grandparents and great-grandparents. The Horner family has roots in southern Ocean County that have been traced to 1688.
His six brothers, Harvey, now of South Burlington, VT, Allan, of Torrington, CT, Barry, of Waretown, NJ, Kenneth, of Forked River, NJ, Daryl of Manahawkin, NJ, and Gary of Toms River, NJ, and two sisters, Beverly Barcalow and Darlene Sutton, both of Forked River, NJ, all contributed to this remembrance of their brother, who was the fourth oldest of the nine children.
This family remembers the adventures of their brother, Walt. It began when he was just a toddler, when he opened the cellar door and went down the steps and broke his nose. A few years later, at the age of 4 or 5, he wandered away from home with Sandy, the family dog, a big Husky. When he couldn't be found, a search was launched by more than 100 volunteers, firemen and State Police. Hours later, after dark, Walt was found by two brothers from Waretown. He was crying, sitting by a stream near an old railroad area, with his dog beside him.
There was his flying trapeze adventure. He attached rope high up on a tree and with a wheel attached would ride down to the ground, or to another tree. This ended when the rope broke one day and he fell to the ground. He was carried into the house with serious concerns about his condition. It turned out that he had the wind knocked out of him and he was soon ready for more adventure.
Growing up, the Horner children enjoyed ice skating and sledding in an old bog area behind the house and during the coldest days of winter, playing there until dark. In later years they liked to swim and water ski.
Much of their family life centered on the Liberty Harbor Marina in Waretown, which was operated by their father and grandfather. The boys had the chance to work with boats and motors. But brother, Barry, recalls that Walt favored restoring cars and painting designs on them. He also enjoyed painting signs.
He liked to play his electric guitar and also had a set of bongo drums. During the summer months the social circle of the boys expanded to the summer residents of the region, many from Pennsylvania.
As a youngster, Barry said Walter was thin, although strong and not frail. By his teen years he built himself up, primarily with the use of weights that he worked out with in the basement of their home and in the high school gym. He developed into a superb athlete, competing in wrestling and weightlifting.
Horner was awarded the Purple Heart, the Military Merit Medal, the Gallantry Cross with Palm, two Rifle Marksman Medals, the Republic of Vietnam Service and the National Defense Medals.
Waretown, the common name for Ocean Township, has a memorial which pays tribute to Walter Horner in its community park, east of the Garden State Parkway.
Sources: Anne Cullen (volunteer) and NJVVMF.
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