Walker honored for contributions

Sandra ClarkGibbs/Corryton

The Rev. Jess Walker of Corryton has received a Certificate of Merit from U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who called him “one of the unsung heroes of our conservative movement.”

Walker was an assistant chaplain in Vietnam from December 1964 through 1965.

The Rev. Jess Walker

He says the Lord called him to preach in 1963. The command was so strong that he actually interrupted the Rev. Johnnie Jones, who was preaching. “I sat there and felt God. I got up and said God wants me to preach. “(Jones) shouted and the church shouted. That night I preached and 35 souls were saved.”

Walker was ordained by Hines Creek Baptist Church in Union County on the day before he left for Vietnam.

Interestingly, Walker served two years in the U.S. Navy, two years in the Army, a year-and-a-half in the Marine Corps and then back to the Army National Guard for 24 years. He says he served in the Guard with Jimmy Duncan.

In Vietnam, Walker was trained as a helicopter crew member. “We would fly in and get (downed soldiers). We got 21 pilots out.” He was pulled off of what would have been his final mission, and that helicopter was shot down.

He got the dual role of assistant chaplain from a captain who had played basketball for the Naval Academy. “I came aboard the ship, saluted the flag and then saluted the captain,” Walker recalls. “He needed an assistant chaplain and I was an ordained minister. He gave me the job on the spot and asked another sailor to carry my bags.”

Walker counseled many sailors (trained by the chaplain) and preached some sermons aboard ship. He also found time to study. Walker had left Claiborne County High School after three years. He finished his high school studies through Community High School in Miami and took college work through several colleges while in the service.

Now in his mid- to late-70s, Walker continues to perform weddings and other church work as requested. And up in Washington, D.C., Sen. Marsha Blackburn has noticed his service. It feels good to be appreciated.

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