Mercer Christie Walter
Major Genreal, United Staes Army
By Adam Bernstein
Mercer C. Walter, 97, a retired Army Major General whose career began in the Cavalry and ended in 1964 as the Director of Intelligence in Europe, died October 27, 2003, at DeWitt Army Community Hospital at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He had kidney failure.
General Walter was a military adviser during key moments of the Cold War, and his work took him from Europe to East Asia.
During the mid-1950s, he discussed with Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia the possibility of U.S. military assistance.
He then was dispatched to Pakistan as chief of a military assistance advisory group to instruct in combat readiness and to warn of the consequences of continued conflict with India.
As intelligence director for the Army in Europe, he was based in Heidelberg, West Germany. He provided crucial advice during the Cuban missile crisis, construction of the Berlin Wall and other episodes that highlighted the distrust between Soviet bloc countries and the Western allies.
He briefed President John F. Kennedy on military matters just before the president's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech in 1963.
Mercer Christie Walter was a native Washingtonian. His father died when he was 2, and he was raised by his mother. His family said that from childhood, he wanted to be in the Navy, but he became fearful of water after an elder brother drowned in the Potomac River.
General Walter was a 1924 graduate of the old Central High School and a 1928 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
He was initially assigned to the Field Artillery and, as a Cavalryman, was "issued" a horse. In 1941, he graduated from the Command and General Staff College in Kansas.
During World War II, he was an intelligence officer assigned to the 3rd Army Division to prepare for the launching of amphibious operations at French-held Morocco in late 1942. The next year, he commanded an artillery battalion in North Africa that battled German forces for control of the strategic war zone.
As he advanced across the desert, he continued his intelligence work to prepare for the Army's assault on Sicily and the Naples-Foggia and Rome-Arno campaigns that led to the liberation of Italy.
Toward the end of the war, he was commandant of the Army's military intelligence training center at Camp Ritchie, Maryland.
He later did assessment work of postwar intelligence needs while based at Fort Sill, Okla., and, in 1949, he became chief of British-U.S. intelligence in the Free Territory of Trieste.
He was promoted to General in 1954 after having done key intelligence studies about the strategic importance of Yugoslavia.
He also supervised relief and rehabilitation in South Korea after the war there.
His decorations included the Distinguished Service Medal, two awards of the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
With his eyesight failing from glaucoma, he retired from the Army in 1964 and collected stamps, a hobby since childhood. He lived at the Fairfax retirement community at Fort Belvoir.
His wife of 64 years, Mabel Lombard Walter, died in 1994.
Survivors include two daughters, Clare Christie
Rinehart of Redondo Beach, Calif., and Judith Mercer Gappa of Santa Rosa,
Calif.; three grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
WALTER, MERCER C
MG US ARMY
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 07/01/1942 - 07/01/1964
DATE OF BIRTH: 05/13/1906
DATE OF DEATH: 10/27/2003
DATE OF INTERMENT: 12/10/2003
BURIED AT: SECTION 30 SITE 634-1 - Arlington National Cemetery
Posted: 4 June 2004 Updated: 3 September 2005