Phi Air Surgeon Is Twice Decorated
By PAUL ALFRED CARMACK, DePauw
MOKEY JOE, as he is known to the
men of the Air Force, otherwise
Captain Joseph Edward Walther, Jr.,
DePauw '34, army flight surgeon, was
recently honored with the Soldier's
Medal following his rescue work of last
April. He led a rescue squad over Koolau
range in Oahu, T.H., to bring out the
bodies of the victims from the crash of
an army bomber which fell April 5.
Later he was given the Oak-Leaf Cluster
"for additional actions of distinguished
service" as one of the group of seventynine air heroes at Hickam Field.
He took a prominent part in giving
aid to the wounded in the battle of Midway. He was aboard a flying fortress
which was sent out from Hickam Field
to do scout duty west of Midway Island,
where the fortress landed. Joe was
bombed and machine-gunned by the
Japs while at Midway but with his crew
took off again on duty west of Midway.
His Midway story is related by a
United Press reporter who interviewed
him after his return to Hawaii.
"The Jap planes were showering a
cloud-burst of bullets and bombs down
on Midway island but Smokey Joe, the
doctor, kept working over wounded men
who swore at the Nips to forget their
"They flew so low that a marine officer
picked off one Jap pilot with his Browning automatic rifle and the plane
plunged into a nearby lagoon.
"Smokey is a tow-headed flight surgeon
in the Army Air Force and forever is
grinning and conservatively
estimate that there were at least 200,000
Jap Zero fighters attacking and everyone
had my name on their bombs and
bullets,' he said of the Midway adventure.
"Walther was ordered aboard a flying
fortress which went out from Hawaii on
a scouting mission west of Midway.
'I act as machine gunner and general
kibitzer on such to go
along,' he explained.
"On Thursday, June 4, Smokey was up
at three o'clock in the morning helping
the marines put up their machine guns.
The alarm sounded at six and he was
caught on the far side of the runway
away from the hospital on Eastern island
which, with Sand island, makes up the
'Stick around. Doc,' the marines
said. 'We'll shoot down a buzzard for
'I started for the hospital, however,'
Walther said, 'and about fifty yards away
I heard the rattling of anti-aircraft, then
thunderous barrages. I looked up and
there they were, with red disks on their
'I dove into a slit trench, unwisely
choosing the one next to a supply shack
which they were trying to get.
'Woom, woom went the bombs.
Sand, dust and coral spurted up in tremendous clouds spattering everyone below, including me. One Jap plane, no
higher than three hundred feet, dropped
its eggs. I heard them whistle as they left
the bomb racks and then, that wooming
again. Then they started strafing. Actually there were about ninety planes working over us. They left the runways untouched so they could land
"He then headed for the hospital. 'The
men there,' he said, 'had to go through
great pain and had what
it takes. They took it without a whimper. Once in a while the pain would
force a moan through their lips and
knew it hurt really way down. I never
knew what a body could stand and still
hold up and that is the spirit of the
Americans which nobody in the world
can ever lick.'
"Smokey said he thought the attack
lasted two it apparently