Walter Walsh

Walter Walsh
An older gentleman wearing glasses and who is bald except for a crescent of white hair at the back of his head is standing in the middle of a crowd wearing a light blue suit and dark blue tie. A man in a brown shirt whose back is turned to the camera is pointing a blue microphone with the number one at the older man.
Walter Walsh, aged 101, attends the Federal Bureau of Investigation's 100th anniversary gathering in 2008
Born(1907-05-04)May 4, 1907
DiedApril 29, 2014(2014-04-29) (aged 106)
Alma materRutgers Law School
OccupationFBI agent, USMC shooting instructor
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branchUnited States Marine Corps
Years of service1942–1970
Commands heldCommander of marksmen training
Battles/warsWorld War II
Walter Walsh
Medal record
Representing  United States
Men's shooting
ISSF World Shooting Championships
Gold medal – first place 1952 Oslo 25 m Center-Fire Pistol Team
Silver medal – second place 1952 Oslo 25 m Center-Fire Pistol Individual

Walter Rudolph Walsh (May 4, 1907 – April 29, 2014) was an FBI agent, USMC shooting instructor and Olympic shooter. Walsh joined the FBI in 1934, serving during the Public enemy era, and was involved in several high-profile FBI cases, including the capture of Arthur Barker and the killing of Al Brady. He served in the Pacific theatre during World War II with the Marine Corps and, after a brief return to the FBI, served as a shooting instructor with the Marine Corps until his retirement in the 1970s.

A high-profile shooter, Walsh won numerous tournaments within the FBI and the Marine Corps, as well as nationally, and participated in the 1948 Summer Olympics. He received awards for his marksmanship until the age of 90 and served as the coach of the Olympic shooting team until 2000. At the FBI's 100th anniversary celebration he was recognized as the oldest living former agent and noted as being a year older than the organization itself. Aside from some hearing and memory loss, he remained physically fit at his 103rd birthday and, in March 2013, became the longest-lived Olympic competitor.

Early life and FBI career

Walsh was born on May 4, 1907, in West Hoboken, New Jersey, which merged with Union Hill to become Union City in 1925.[1] He joined the Civilian Military Training Corps at age 16, and the New Jersey Army National Guard in 1928.[2] After graduating from Rutgers Law School, Walsh joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1934. Later that year, he discovered the body of gangster Baby Face Nelson, who died of injuries sustained in a gun battle with the police in Barrington, Illinois, on November 27, 1934.[3] Nelson had killed two FBI agents prior to fleeing the scene, wounded, and later died at his wife's side. The FBI, unaware of Nelson's death, continued a broad search for him, which included several home raids, through the night and into the following day. The search was not called off until a tip led them to Nelson's body, which was lying in a ditch in what is now Skokie, Illinois.[4]

Walsh was on the team that captured criminal Arthur Barker, son of gangster Ma Barker, in Chicago in 1935 and was later involved in tracking Public Enemy Number One Al Brady in 1937. On October 12 of that year, he was with the group of FBI agents who ambushed and killed Brady in a shoot-out at a Bangor, Maine sporting goods store.[5] While waiting for Brady to arrive, he acted as a clerk in the store for several days and arrested Brady Gang member James Dalhover. As the operation leader, Walsh's job was to alert thirteen other agents, as well as over 30 other state and local policemen, of any gang member's arrival by pulling a cord on the window. As they were interrogating Dalhover in the store Clarence Lee Shaffer, Jr., another gang member, entered the building and began firing at the agents. While arresting Dalhover, Walsh took five bullets to his hand, shoulder and right chest, but quickly returned to work.[3][6][7][8]

Walsh was employed with the FBI until 1942 when, as a Reserve Marine lieutenant, he took a leave to serve with the United States Marine Corps during World War II. After he left, Hoover refused to allow any more active agents to be members of any military reserve. He fought in the Pacific Theater, specifically on Okinawa and in North China. In one incident, he and his comrades were pinned down by a sniper, whom Walsh was able to kill from 90 yards away with a single shot to the torso from a M1911 pistol.[9] He earned the rank of colonel and returned to the FBI for two years from 1946 to 1947.[3][10] In total, during his tenure with the agency, he killed between 11 and 17 suspects.[11]

Shooting and the Olympics

Walter Walsh in 1939

Walsh got his start with firearms shooting clothespins off of his aunt's laundry line. In 1935, he joined the FBI pistol team.[10] Within three years of joining the FBI, he had been presented with two marksmanship trophies from director J. Edgar Hoover.[5] In 1939, at Camp Ritchie, he set the world record in pistol shooting with 198 points out of a possible 200[12] and won the individual eastern regional pistol championships in 1939 and 1940[13] and placing second in 1941 after leading for most of the tournament.[14][15][16] He placed 12th in the Men's Free Pistol, 50 metres competition at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.[1] At the 1952 ISSF World Shooting Championships, he won a gold medal with the United States team in the 25 m Center-Fire Pistol event[17] and a silver in the individual version of that event.[18] After winning many tournaments within the United States Marine Corps, he became commander of their marksmanship training, a position that he held for many years,[5] until he retired in 1970.[11] In total, he was selected five times for the All-American Pistol Shooting Team.[10]

Later life

Walsh had three daughters, two sons and seventeen grandchildren.[8] As late as 1997, he was still receiving awards for his marksmanship, winning the Outstanding American Handgunner of the Year.[9] Until 2000 he served as a coach for the Olympic shooting team, able to see without the aid of glasses even at the age of 92.[19] At the age of 100 he was present at a re-enactment of the Al Brady shoot out in Bangor, Maine.[7][20] At this event, he was presented with a plaque and the key to the city.[21] At the age of 101, he was the FBI's oldest living former agent and was in excellent physical shape, aside from some hearing and memory loss. He credited his longevity to luck, listening to his parents and blessings from God. At the 100th anniversary celebration of the FBI, it was noted that Walsh was older than the agency itself.[5] In March 2013, at the age of 105, he surpassed American gymnast Rudolf Schrader to become the longest-lived Olympic competitor.[22] He died at his home in Arlington, Virginia on April 29, 2014, five days before his 107th birthday.[23][24]


  1. ^ a b Gjerde, Arild; Jeroen Heijmans; Bill Mallon; Hilary Evans (2009). "Walter Walsh Biography and Statistics". Olympics. Sports Reference.com. Archived from the original on April 18, 2020. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  2. ^ Vanderpool, Bill (October 21, 2010). "The Amazing Life of Walter R. Walsh". Articles. American Rifleman. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c John Miller (2009). FBI 100 – Walter Walsh (YouTube). Washington, D.C.: Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  4. ^ Nickel, Steven; William J. Helmer (April 2002). Baby Face Nelson: portrait of a public enemy. Cumberland House Publishing. pp. 357–62. ISBN 1-58182-272-3.
  5. ^ a b c d Temple-Raston, Dina (July 26, 2008). "FBI Marks 100; Former Agent Has Long Memories". News. National Public Radio. Retrieved August 27, 2009.
  6. ^ "Tough Customers". Crime. Time. October 25, 1937. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  7. ^ a b Russell, Jenna (October 6, 2007). "Bangor recalls Brady Gang". Local. Boston Globe. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  8. ^ a b Telvock, Dan (May 6, 2009). "SHARPSHOOTING G-MAN HONORED". News. fredericksburg.com. Archived from the original on July 22, 2012. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  9. ^ a b Ayoob, Masaad (May 1, 2001). "The AYOOB FILES". Crime. American Handgunner.
  10. ^ a b c Wack, Larry E. (2009). "Faded Glory: Dusty Roads Of An FBI Era". Historical G Men. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  11. ^ a b Culver, Dick (2002). "The Start of Modern Marine Corps Scout Sniper Instructor School" (PDF). Bob Rohrer. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  12. ^ "SETS WORLD RECORD FOR PISTOL SHOOTING; Walsh, F.B.I. Expert, Records 198 at Camp Ritchie". Sports. New York Times. July 2, 1939. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  13. ^ "PISTOL HONORS GO TO FBI MAN AGAIN; Walsh Fires Total of 1,735 to Retain Eastern Title-- N. Y. Police Triumph". Sports. New York Times. July 6, 1940. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  14. ^ "CITY POLICE LEADING IN PISTOL TOURNEY; Top White House Guardians, the Winners Last Year, by a Point". New York Times. August 17, 1941. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  15. ^ Keyes, Frank (August 21, 1941). "Marksmen's Widespread Activities". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  16. ^ Keyes, Frank (September 22, 1941). "Boston Team Captures Police Revolver Title". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  17. ^ "Historical Results". Team Events World Championships. International Shooting Sport Federation. 2009. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  18. ^ "Historical Results". Current Events World Championships. International Shooting Sport Federation. 2009. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  19. ^ Taffin, John (August 1, 2003). "Old warriors. (Campfire Tales)". Crime. Guns Magazine.
  20. ^ "Brady Gang shooting replayed". Portland Press Herald. October 8, 2007.
  21. ^ Doughty, Larry (October 7, 2007). "HISTORICAL EVENT IN DOWNTOWN BANGOR, THE BRADY GANG COMES TO CENTRAL STREET". Ourstory.com. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  22. ^ "1948 Olympian & Centenarian Walter Walsh Now World's Oldest Olympian Ever". United States Olympic Committee. March 21, 2013. Retrieved March 22, 2013.
  23. ^ Lancaster, Marc (2014-04-30). "Walter Walsh, oldest Olympian, dies days shy of 107th birthday". The Washington Times. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
  24. ^ McFadden, Robert D. (May 2, 2014). "Walter R. Walsh Dies at 106; Terrorized Gangsters and Targets". The New York Times. p. B9. Retrieved May 7, 2014.

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