Walter J. Davies, career Army officer, dies

He also headed Harford County's Water and Sewer Division

  • Col. Walter James Davies
Col. Walter James Davies
March 18, 2011|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun | Baltimore Sun reporter

Walter James Davies, a retired career Army officer who later headed Harford County's Water and Sewer Division, died March 11 of heart failure at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center.

The Bel Air resident was 92.

The son of farmers, Mr. Davies was born and raised in Sister Lakes, Mich. He dropped out of Michigan State University to enlist in the Army in 1940.

"He was one of the last of the horse-mounted cavalry and prior to World War II commanded a platoon of the famous 'Buffalo Soldiers' of the 9th Cavalry Regiment," said his daughter, LeVoy Davies Francisco of Bel Air.

During World War II, he commanded a reconnaissance troop that patrolled the East Coast beaches looking for German enemies that might land there.

Mr. Davies participated in the capture of eight German saboteurs who were dropped by U-boat 202 and landed on the beach at Amagansett, Long Island, N.Y., on June 13, 1942, in an operation code-named Operation Pastorius.

"They found a rubber raft and other evidence that German operatives had landed there. The evidence was turned over to the FBI and they were apprehended," said Mrs. Francisco.

The agents were tried; six were executed, one was sentenced to life in prison and another to 30 years.

After the end of World War II, Mr. Davies was assigned as an intelligence officer with Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Tokyo and later directed intelligence operations for the 8th Army in Korea.

While in the Army, he returned to Michigan State University, where he earned a degree in 1945 in agricultural engineering.

During the 1950s, he commanded a tank battalion in West Germany, and ended his military career as deputy post commander at Edgewood Arsenal.

He retired in 1972 with the rank of colonel.

Mr. Davies was hired by Harford County to manage the county's water and sewer division. At the time of his retirement in 1984, The Aegis said in an editorial that the "general welfare of the government and its finances are certainly better off today because of Mr. Davies' management of a chronic problem area."

From 1991 until stepping down earlier this year, Mr. Davies was a volunteer board member of Freedom Federal Credit Union in Harford County.

He was a member of the Bel Air Lions Club.

Mr. Davies was an accomplished woodworker and enjoyed repairing clocks and refinishing furniture. He also liked playing golf and doing maintenance work on his sports car.

Services were March 16.

Also surviving are his wife of 70 years, the former Barbara Catherine Gribler; a son, the Rev. Richard E. Davies of Morrow, Ga.; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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