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Merrill and Dolores Walker Second World War correspondence

 Collection — document-box: 1-2
Identifier: 2016-026-s-r

Content Description

This collection consists of 260 correspondence to and from Lt. Merrill Walker, USAAF and his wife Dolores (Kimbro) Walker before and during the Second World War. Lt. Walker joined the United States Navy in 1935 and the United States Army Air Force in 1940, the same year the Walkers were married. Lt. Walker wrote and received letters in this collection beginning while training as an Aviation Cadet at Santa Ana Air Base, CA, Sequoia Field in Visalia, CA, War Eagle Field in Lancaster, CA, Marfa Army Air Field, TX, and Tonopah Army Air Field in NV until deploying overseas to Amendola Air Base in Foggia, Italy, by way of "somewhere in Africa." Dolores wrote to Lt. Walker about every day life back home, their daughter Penny, and her budding modeling career, as well as her shopping habits and Depression Era finances. Also included are letters between the Walkers and other authors, as well as greeting cards, papers, and pamphlets. Inventory:

260 correspondence, personal, 1938-1944

30 cards, greeting cards and invitations

1 program, "On the Beam," 5/25/1943

1 pamphlet, "Life Begins at the California Hospital," Maternity Department

1 pamphlet, The Gospel of St. John

1 pamphlet, The Reason Why, by R.A. Laidlaw, Treasure Island, San Francisco, 1939

1 pamphlet, Do You Know?, by Howard J. Chidley, 1942

1 flyer, with envelope, Universal CIT Credit Corporation

1 receipt, The National Life and Accident Insurance Co., Inc., 9/18/44, signed "Walker"

1 checklist, blank, Blindfold test on cockpit controls

1 I.O.U., Los Angeles High School Library, Dolores Kimbro

1 bill, U.S. Government Bill of Lading, with cover letter and envelope, 8 December, 1944

1 letter, two copies, with envelope, Re: Disposition of Personal Effects, 4 October, 1944

1 letter, two copies, with envelope, Re: Disposal of Personal Property, 19 December, 1944


  • 1938 - 1952
  • Majority of material found within 1943 - 1944

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

Biographical / Historical

Merrill Ludwig Walker was born in Brayton, Iowa on April 6, 1916 and lived there until he joined the United States Navy in 1935 to get off of the farm. While in port in the Los Angeles area, he visited his brother John at a nearby Ralphs market where he worked with Sophie Kimbro, the mother of his future wife Dolores.

(Mary) Dolores Loraine Kimbro was born in Chehalis, Washington on September 2, 1919 and moved to the Los Angeles area with her parents sometime before 1930. The two married in Las Vegas March 3, 1940 and had a daughter, Penny, as the war in Europe was underway and that same year Merrill switched services and joined the United States Army Air Forces as an Airmen Cadet for training as a pilot.

After training, Lt. Walker joined the fight in Europe, travelling to Italy after a short stop "somwhere in Africa" in April 1944. As part of the 345th Bomb Squadron, 98th Bomb Group, 47th Bomber Wing, 15 Air Force, he co-piloted a B-24 bomber out of Amendola Air Base in Foggia, Italy. His unit ran bombing runs over Southern France, assisting in the reclaiming of Vichy territory, Germany, and the former Yugoslavia where he earned the rank of Lieutenant. On June 6, 1944 (D-Day), he was shot down over Serbia and spent roughly two months missing in action. As a part of Operation Halyard, an OSS rescue mission (Office of Strategic Services), he was rescued by a band of underground Chetnik guerillas led by Bora Kakarovic. His last letter to Dolores was written June 3, and the first after his return was August 15, where he briefly explains his apologies for making her worry, though no further details are given.

The 15th Air Force was stationed in Italy and ran routine bombing missions during 1944 over the Balkans to destroy Nazi oil refineries and oil supply centers. After one particular mission to Ploesti, Romania, several American planes were shot down by Luftwaffe air fire and crews were parachuted down into Nazi controlled areas. An OSS officer, and native Yugoslav, Captain George Vujnovich coordinated with the leader of the Chetnik royalists, General Draza Mihailovic, a massive rescue of American airmen that had been collected and protected by the guerillas from Nazis and Nazi supporters. The airmen and the Chetniks crafted a short runway with hand tools and, beginning August 9, 1944, airmen were retrieved by low-flying C-47s. The missions continued until December, 1944 and 512 airmen were rescued without a single loss of life or rescue aircraft.

( See also: The Forgotten 500, by Gregory A. Freeman (New York: Penguin, 2007).

After the war, the Walkers moved to Long Beach, had two sons, Pete and Tim, and eventually settled in San Jacinto after Merrill retired from the Los Angeles Police Department after 30 years as a Lieutenant. Lt. Walker passed away February 16, 2005 and Dolores died in Fullerton, California March 8, 2014., Accessed 7/11/2016


1 Linear Feet (1 carton)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of 260 correspondence to and between Lieutenant Merrill Ludwig Walker, United States Army Air Force and his wife Dolores Lorraine (Kimbro) Walker before and during the Second World War. Included are letters between the Walkers and other authors as well as greeting cards, papers, and pamphlets.


This collection is arranged by author and date: Series 1: Correspondence from Merrill to Dolores--Series 2: Correspondence from Dolores to Merrill--Series 3: Correspondence to Merrill from other authors--Series 4: Correspondence to Dolores from other authors--Series 5: Other correspondence--Series 6: Greeting and other cards--Series 7: Personal papers--Series 8: Pamphlets and miniature books.

Some letters are undated and arranged logically according to recipient location or based on letter content.

Physical Location

Leatherby Libraries, Special Collections and Archives.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from The Book Shop, 6/16/2016.

Finding Aid for the Merrill and Dolores Walker Second World War correspondence
In Progress
Andrew Harman
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Repository Details

Part of the Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives, Leatherby Libraries Repository

Chapman University
One University Drive
Orange 92866 USA US