Dewey Langston, Nathaniel “Nat” Walker

Editor’s note: World War II officially ended Sept. 2, 1945, when the Japanese signed surrender terms. We’re honoring the war’s area veterans over the next several months with these brief profiles.

Dewey Langston
Date of birth: July 17, 1920
Dates of service: 1942 to 1982
Hometown: Portales
Lives in: Portales
Theater and location of service: Pacific
Branch: Marines
Rank: Lieutenant colonel
Unit and specialty: 2nd A.A.A. Battalion; anti-aircraft
Veterans organizations: VFW, American Legion.

In his words: Langston literally walked away from his studies at Eastern New Mexico University to serve his country, hitchhiking to Dallas to enlist in the Marine Corps.

Langston’s five brothers and five brothers-in-law also entered service during the war.

Langston was injured on Okinowa when a smoldering fragment from a bomb embedded in his hip.

“I didn’t even feel it. When I pulled up my shirt the frag(ment) was in the hole with my dungaree.”

Even though infection set in and he underwent surgery, Langston remained on active duty. “I stayed on duty all the time. Even when I had the severe bleeding. A corpsman put a battle dress on it and I kept working.”

As a battalion chief, he also took pride in his troops.

“I trained them myself and they shot down more planes than anybody else. I took great pleasure in that. (In war) you take great pride in yourselves and you don’t have much else.”

Nathaniel “Nat” Walker
Date of birth: July 10, 1926
Dates of service: 1943 to 1946
Hometown: Clovis
Lives in: Clovis
Theater and location of service: South Pacific
Branch: Navy
Rank: Shipfitter, 2nd class, diver
Unit and specialty: USS Kilty APD15 and USS Washash: shipfitter
Veterans organizations: VFW post 3280

In his words: Wearing a 235-pound, “hard-hat” dive suit, Walker was one of two men on his ship who could do underwater repairs. He trained for a year and a half across San Francisco Bay from Alcatraz before being sent overseas. Training exercises included going down to patch a metal barrel — seemingly simple but far more difficult in execution when wearing a cumbersome dive suit. A shipfitter had to know welding, foundry and blacksmithing — “pretty much anything to do with repairing a ship,” he said.

“It was very strenuous on the body,” he said. “There was a valve on the side (of the suit) to equalize pressure. You were fighting the current and trying to get your balance.”

He was assigned to a destroyer and that fought in South Pacific.

World War II profiles are compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson. Contact her at 763-6991 or by e-mail:
sharna_johnson@link.freedom.com