Walter Andrew Hering never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.
He was born on July 18, 1917 in Arkansas. His father was born in Michigan and his mother was born in Ireland. By 1920 Walter's family was living in the territory of Alaska. His father died when Walter was nine years old. Walter had four older brothers, three older sisters, and one younger sister. His mother stayed in Alaska after her husband died and worked as a switchboard operator.
Walter graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1938 where he played basketball all four years of his education. He married his wife Julia in 1943 and they made their home in Georgia.
He achieved the rank of a lieutenant commander. From August 1944 to March 1945 he was the commanding officer on the destroyer USS Paterson. In mid-March he transferred to the destroyer USS Hazelwood were he was slated to replace the commanding officer.
Steaming from Ulithi with a fast carrier force on March 14, the Hazelwood took part in the invasion of Okinawa. After the invasion on April 1, the Hazelwood was on radar picket and escort patrol duty. On April 29, 1945 the Hazelwood was part of a carrier group that was attacked by kamikaze planes diving out of low cloud cover. Throwing up as much fire as possible, the ship was able to avoid two Zeros. It damaged a third Zero that still managed to hit the #2 stack on the port side and smash into the bridge where it exploded. Fuel spilled all over the decks and bulkheads spreading fire. A mast toppled and the forward guns were knocked out. Lt. Cmdr. Hering was one of 113 men killed by the kamikaze attack. The ship survived the attack.
His cenotaph is at the Honolulu Memorial. His widow remarried after Walter's death and died in 2001.
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To mark having over 100,000 visits to my project to honor the fallen of WW2 on their 100th birthdate, I created this video to share. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY
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