Colonel Philip A. Walker, Jr (Ret), 84, of Bradenton, Florida formerly of Gibson City passed away Friday, August 12, 2022 at 6:45am EST in Bradenton, Florida. Masonic Services will be held at 9:30 am on Saturday, August 27, 2022 at the First Christian Church in Gibson City. Visitation will be from 10:00 am to 11:00 am with a Celebration of Life Service officiated by Pastor David Massey-Brown at 11:00 am. A burial with military honors accorded by the Lee Lowery American Legion Post #568 will follow at Drummer Township Cemetery in Gibson City. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Legion, Moyer District Library, Masonic Lodge or First Christian Church all in Gibson City. Rosenbaum Funeral Home in Gibson City is assisting the family with their services.
Philip was born April 30, 1938 in Bloomington, IL; he was the son of Philip A. and Elizabeth N. Walker. He grew up on a farm in McLean County and graduated from Gibson City High School in 1956. A month later he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated as a 2LT in 1960. The following year he graduated from Ranger, Airborne, and Artillery basic schools. He then returned to Elliot, IL to marry his high school sweetheart Fritzi Kreitzer before reporting to the 28th FA in Crailsheim FRG. He and Fritzi had their first child, Betsy, in Stuttgart. He returned to Ft. Sill for the FA advanced course where their second child Philip III was born. He then went to the University of Illinois earning an MSEE. Their third child, Matthew was born at Chanute AF base.
Philip ultimately rose to the rank of Colonel spending two combat tours in Vietnam. He fought during the 1968 TET Offensive as an advisor to the Vietnamese. Unfortunately, Fritzi passed away shortly before he returned from Sadec, Vietnam. Phil moved with his three children to NORAD HQs in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
As a Major there was the second Vietnamese tour that ended up at USARV HQ, where he developed the Nixon Drug Program. That undesired task turned out to be the most difficult and challenging task of his career. It was followed by another challenging task of developing the plan for return of our prisoners of war. He then went to Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth and back to Ft. Carson in Colorado. He was still a major in several staff jobs at four different levels for five years. He then received early promotion and command of the 19th Artillery Battalion which was the greatest job in the Army followed by the Pentagon which was not. He had the good fortune of early promotion and a year at the National War College.
Phil married Gia Thi Pham after graduation. He was assigned to HQ EUCOM in Stuttgart FRG for two years. Gias’s two children, Philippa and Phillip joined the family. He went back to the USA and four years in the command structure of Information Systems Engineering Command. He retired from active duty in 1987 after more than twenty-six years of service. After the Army, Philip worked in the civilian sector for 12 additional years, ending his career at Science Applications International Corporation as Senior Vice President of Large Systems Development.
Philip is survived by his wife Gia of Bradenton, his children Betsy (Chris) Rather of Colorado Springs, Colorado; Philip (Marisol) Walker Newport News, Virginia; Matthew (Trisha) Walker Carmel, Indiana; Phillip Bates of Bradenton, Florida; Philippa Hughes of Washington DC; and Dr. Lynn (Gary Peterson) Lankes of Santa Rosa, California. He was blessed with eleven grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Also, sister Sue Walker of Gibson City, IL; brother Mark (Glynn) Walker of Norwalk, Connecticut and, Uncle Bill Norvell of Longview, Washington and many friends.