June 12, 1917 (Danbury, CT) – May 31, 1943; 25 years old
Last known address: 55 Cove Avenue, East Norwalk
Service number: O-361389
Unit: 303rd Basic Flight Training Center
Born to Walter G. (1888-1958) and Blanche Bresson Fitzgerald (1893-1996). Two sisters, Catherin Blanche Fitzgerald (1915-2014) of the Ursuline Convent in New Rochelle, NY (1914-2014) and Marienne F. Fitzgerald Lee (1915-1994).
Norwalk High School Class of ‘34
Walter served as a Major & Flight Instructor, 303rd Basic Flight Training Center, Fort Knox, Kentucky, U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. Walter died in the line of duty while training a future pilot in BT-13A #41-1681 when the plane crashed at Toyah Auxiliary Field, Texas during the war.
Airmen who perished on BT-13A #41-1681:
Beck, Raymond G. ~ Cadet, Student, Minneapolis, MN
Fitzgerald, Walter J., Jr. ~ Major, Instructor, Norwalk, CT
From The Norwalk Hour, June 1, 1943
The word that their son, Major Walter J. “Bud” Fitzgerald Jr., 27, was killed in a training plane crash at Pecos, Texas, was received late last night by Mr. and Mrs. Walter J. Fitzgerald of 55 Cove Avenue from the War Department. No details of the accident were told in the telegram. Major Fitzgerald was at Pecos for advanced pilot training. The body will be brought here for burial. Major Fitzgerald earned his first commission, that of a Second Lieutenant, in ROTC work at Fordham University. He was called into the service with the Army Air Force in May 1940. He served first at Westover Field, Massachusetts, remaining there until April 1941, when he was transferred to General Headquarters, Bolling Field, Washington DC. Four months later he was made a First Lieutenant and on March 1, 1942, received his Captain’s bars. On October 15, 1942, he was promoted to Major. He had been at Pecos flying field for about six weeks. Major Fitzgerald attended local schools and graduated from Fordham University. Prior to enlistment, he was in the realty business with his brother-in-law, Kenneth F. Lee under the firm name Lee and Fitzgerald. Besides his parents, Major Fitzgerald is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Marianne F. Lee and Sister Mary Barbara at Ursuline Convent in New Rochelle, New York. Mr. Fitzgerald Sr. is in the awning business in Liberty Square and is a member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation.
From The Norwalk Hour June 14, 1943 – letter to the editor
“BUD FITZGERALD, HQ. Co. 30th Infantry Division c/o Postmaster, Nashville, Tenn
Editor of The Norwalk Hour:
In the June 1 issue of The Norwalk Hour, the latest one I have seen, due to the fact that I’ve been on the move recently, the death of Major Walter J. Fitzgerald Jr., was reported. The story mentioned the fact that only the fact of death was then known; there were no “further details” at that time. It may be that later issues have brought out some further details, but I doubt that any official releases would carry one important detail I am able to supply. It is a detail known only to friends of the late Major Fitzgerald. Major “Bud” Fitzgerald — and this is the detail — was a hero just as surely as was any man who lost his life at Midway, or on Bataan, or in North Africa. “Bud” had made a success of his business in a short time in Norwalk, and he had made a brilliant success of his administrative chores in the Air Corps after he was called up for duty. His friends in Washington where he was stationed for a long time, often said that he seemed to think of nothing but work; he was on duty from early in the morning until late at night — seven days a week. It was much constant devotion to duty that won him a promotion to Major at such an early age. And “Bud” could have continued in administrative work had he wished. He could have continued in a field in which his success was already assured. But he chose to seek duty in a more active theater, a theater in which success was by no means assured, and in which the added element of personal peril was present. Many men, for good personal reasons, seek to avoid military service completely. Some men in the service for reasons of their own, seek to avoid active personal contact with the enemy. Some men in the service deliberately look for ways in which they may engage the enemy directly. These men we rightly consider to be heroes. “Bud” Fitzgerald then, who did his thoughtful best to fight — and fight in a physical sense — for his country, is a hero. The fact of his heroism is a detail that might well be included in the public record of his career.
PFC EDWARD R. FAY., JR.
June 8, 1943
AUTHOR NOTE: Edward R. Fay Jr. survived the war and passed away in Norwalk in 1996 at 85 years old.
Maj Fitzgerald is interred at St. John’s Cemetery, 223 Richards Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut. A gravesite cannot be found.