World War II Honor Roll

Walter K. Wilbraham

Corporal, U.S. Army


Battery G, 10th Coast Artillery Regiment

Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: July 14, 1941
Awards: Soldiers Medal

CORPORAL WALTER K. WILBRAHAM was born in Palmyra NJ on January 26, 1919 to Rueben and Emma Wilbraham. The family lived at 3311 Mickle Street in East Camden in the late 1920s and early 1930s before moving to Collingswood NJ. He graduated from Collingswood High School in Collingswood NJ in 1938, where he was on the varsity basketball and track teams in junior and senior years, and also was a student PTA representative. He was also an excellent swimmer, and liked dancing. His dislikes, as stated in his high school yearbook, were "Geometry and cauliflower". The Wilbraham family lived at 920 Collings Avenue while Walter was in High School, later moving to 1312 Walnut Avenue and then to Atlantic City. After high school, he attended Mississippi State College, where he starred in football and basketball. He was drafted, and entered the Army in April of 1941, and was assigned to a Coast Artillery unit at Fort Eustis VA. In July of 1941 he was re-assigned to Battery G, 10th Coast Artillery Regiment at Fort Adams at Newport RI.
   While serving at Fort Adams, on  July 14, 1941 a cabin cruiser caught fire in Newport harbor. Private Walter K. Wilberham of Battery G, 10th Coast Artillery heard the occupants crying for help about 1/2 mile away. He then swam to the boat with two other soldiers. Fearing an explosion he lowered the woman on the boat to the two other soldiers and remained on board, at the risk of his life, trying to extinguish the flames. The boat was towed to shore by mine yawls stationed at Fort Adams where the flames were extinguished. 
   In September of 1941, Walter Wilbraham was promoted to the rank of Corporal.
   On January 14, 1942, Private Wilberham was critically injured while traveling from the fort to his post, in the line of duty. He died of his injuries on January 16. He was 22 years of age at the time of his death.
   His death was a great loss to all the friends he had made during his short Army career and as a civilian.
   Walter Wilbraham was awarded the Soldiers Medal posthumously on June 5, 1942 for his heroic action at Fort Adams. He was survived by his wife and parents.

From the pages of
The Morning Post
Camden, N.J. June 11, 1942

2 Camden Co. Soldiers, One Dead,
Among 14 Given Bravery Medals

Collingswood High School Graduate
 Was Killed in Line of Duty as Fort Adams, R.I.; 
Youth Rescued Woman from Burning Boat

        Two Camden county men were among 14 members of the armed forces awarded the Soldier’s Medal For Bravery signifying heroism over and above the call of duty, it was announced yesterday by the War Department.

      One of two local awards was posthumous to Corporal Walter K. Wilbraham, former Collingswood High School and Mississippi State College athlete.

      The other was to Private William H. Sharp of Camden. Both were cited for the same a ct is rescuing a woman from a burning cabin cruiser in Narragansett Bay, RI, several months ago.

      Wilbraham’s parents, Mr. And Mrs. Ruben Wilbraham formerly lived at 1312 Walnut Avenue, West Collingswood. Their home now is in Atlantic City where they received word January 15th their son had been killed in the line of duty at Fort Adams, RI.

 Saved Flying Officer 

     Others cited with Wilbraham and Sharp are Thomas J. Sheridan, Jr. of Bronx NY; Robert I. Fitzhenry and Henry J. Acker, both of New Rochelle NY

     Technical Sgt. Chris A. Green, Lancaster KY was cited for his bravery in saving an army kitchen truck from destruction when the range exploded and spilled a large amount of burning gasoline.

     Air Corps Corporal Fred D. Parler, Dorchester SC. saved a man from a burning airplane at the Canal Zone. During a take-off the plane crashed and burst into flames. The seat canopy jammed and the pilot was trapped. Parler mounted the airplane wing, forced the hot canopy open, and rescued the flying officer.

     Corporal James K. Wright of Tullahoma TN., rescued a drowning man from the waters of Myrtle Beach SC.

     Privates Wilson S. Smart, Tibbets MO, and Harold V. Keahey, Pickens AR, were decorated for rescuing the pilot of a burning plane when the escape hatch was enveloped in flames.

     Private Morris E. Hicks, Camargo OK was cited for his attempt to rescue a drowning comrade from the Columbia River in Oregon.

     Private Wilson P. O’Brien, Steubenville OH, jumped into the East River at New York and succeeded in bringing a drowning man to shore despite floating cakes of ice.

     Privates First Class Lewis A. Willis, Wilmington DE, and Everett D. Keim, Neptune City NJ saved a man who was in danger of drowning or suffocating in a swamp near Fort Monmouth.

Walter K. Wilbraham
is remembered by
Joseph C. Hall
and other members of the Collingswood High School Class of 1938