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Walter E. Starck was born in Hosington, Kansas on September 2, 1920. He was the son of a Lutheran minister, who died in 1933. Walter's mother returned, with her children, to her home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. From age 3, Walter expressed a desire to be a pilot. He worked to support the family starting in his teens and saved money from his job as a theater manager.
He graduated High School, and applied for Aviation Cadets, but a requirement was 2 years of college. He hired a tutor to enable him to receive the equivalent education. After the war began in 1941, the 2-year requirement was eliminated, so Walter enlisted and requested Cadet status in January 1942.
On November 10, 1942, he graduated from flight training and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and awarded pilot wings at Moore Field, Texas. He was then sent to Westover, Massachusetts to familiarize himself on the P-47. Later he was assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron of the 326th Fighter Group.
After training, he was assigned to the 487th Fighter Squadron of the 352nd Fighter Group as the Engineering Officer. He deployed with the unit in 1943 to Bodney Field, England. He began routine missions in the P-47, escorting bombers, and making fighter sweeps. He moved to P-51 fighters when the 352nd Fighter Group transitioned from the P-47.
On November 27, 1944, he and his flight engaged enemy fighters in defense of a bomber stream. At that time, his record was 5 aerial victories, with 1 probable and 2 damaged. In the ensuing dogfight, he shot down 2 more enemy aircraft, but debris from his last kill struck his aircraft and damaged the engine. He reported to the flight leader he was making for England, but the aircraft lost all power and Starck was forced to bail out.
He was captured by the Germans and interrogated for 19 days under extreme conditions, Finally, he was shipped to Stalag Luft I where he stayed under primitive conditions until liberated by the Russians in May 1945. He was promoted to Major and returned to the U.S. at duty stations Moore Field, Texas and Luke AFB, Arizona.
In 1946 he returned to Europe on Occupation duty at Schweinfurt, Germany. In 1948, he was assigned to Red Bank, New Jersey. He then had a tours at various organizations and bases such as Wright-Patterson AFB, Illinois; Taegu AFB, Korea: and Lincoln AFB, Nebraska in the Civil Engineering area.
He became the Division Civil Engineering Officer for the 3rd Air Force in 1962 at Anderson AFB, Guam. In 1964, he was appointed as Executive Civil Engineering Officer at Hgs SAC at Offutt AFB, Nebraska.
Colonel Walter E. Strack retired from the Air Force on July 31, 1965.
He passed away on January 7, 2010 at his home in Berlin, Maryland.
Walter Starck's first assigned aircraft was P-47D #42-8684, nicknamed "Lucia."
When the 352nd Fighter Group transitioned to P-51s, Starck was assigned P-51B #43-24807, nicknamed "Starck Mad." This name was on the left side of the aircraft; "Even Steven" (for Keith Steven, crew chief) was on the right side.
Later, Starck was given P-51B #43-6929, which was lost on May 12, 1944 while being flown by Lt. Alfred P. Howard, Jr., who was shot down and captured. Ironically enough, Starck was flying P-51B #44-14794, nicknamed "Buzz Boy," assigned to Lt. James Bateman, when he was forced to bail out and become a POW.