Wright, Walter F. (P2, C4, L36)
Lieutenant Colonel Walter Franklin Wright, 51, of Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky, died of heart failure at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, while on active duty during World War II with the 38th Division on 20 January 1942.
Wright died unexpectedly of a heart attack shortly after entering the 138th Field Artillery infirmary waiting to have a tooth removed. The regimental dental surgeon was preparing to administer an anesthetic when Wright collapsed. Medical staff were unable to resuscitate him with artificial oxygen respirator.
Wright was born March 21, 1890 in Manchester, Clay County to John W. Wright a native of Knox County and Mollie Asher Wright a native of Clay County. Wright’s father, a lawyer, was struck and killed by a train about a year prior to Wright’s own death.
In November 1908 - Wright, then 18 years old, he joined the United States Army Coast Artillery serving on active duty at Fort Worden Washington State as a private and later promoted to corporal. The post was primarily a coast artillery installation and located to protect the Puget Sound.
In 1914 Wright graduated from the University of Kentucky. His military records show that he focused on math and languages in addition to the law. He could read French, German, Spanish as well as Latin and Greek. He records also noted he able to speak French and German fairly. He also competed for a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford but was not selected.
On August 20, 1916, Wright joined the Kentucky National Guard serving as a second lieutenant and company commander in the 2nd Kentucky Infantry Regiment at Fort Thomas and on the Mexican Border on federal active duty with his unit.
By April 1917 when the unit returned from the border he was a Captain. Still on federal active duty in June 1917 he was stationed at Pine Camp New York serving with the 15th Field Artillery Regiment, Second Division and eventually commanding the 1st Battalion, 15th Field Artillery in later phases of Meuse-Argonne campaign. Wright’s World War I Campaign participation credit include the Aisne-Marne; St. Mihiel; and the Meuse-Argonne. He was wounded in action. His awards and decorations include the Croix de Guerre. Wright was about to be promoted to Major when the Armistice was declared and it was put on hold.
Wright returned from overseas and remained on active duty serving at Camp Taylor and Camp Knox as a field artillery instructor. He was also a field artillery instructor for the Illinois National Guard’s 122nd Field Artillery, 33rd Division. He decided to leave active duty. This may be when he practiced as an attorney for five years as indicated in his military records, possibly in Louisville. In 1928 Wright’s records show that he was married to Ruth Margaret Wright of Miami Florida.
In civilian life, Wright served as the chief inspector for the alcohol tax division of the department for the states of Kentucky and Tennessee for internal revenue department at Louisville. Wright was served as president of Louisville’s University of Kentucky Alumni Association chapter.
Wright returned to military service in February 1928 as a first lieutenant serving as an Intel Officer for the 63rd Field Artillery Brigade. In March 1929 he was promoted to Captain and was assigned to the 38th Infantry Davison staff. He was promoted to Major in June 1929. Wright was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in December 1940. Wright attended Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth April – June, 1941 and had previously attended field officers course at Fort Sill Field Artillery School.
Wright again went on federal active duty with his unit in January 1941 and was serving at Camp Shelby Mississippi with the 38th Division serving as the Executive Officer for the 63rd Field Artillery Brigade.
At the time of his death he was married to Emolyne Sampson Wright. She was the daughter of former Kentucky Governor (1927-1931) Flemon Davis “Flem” Sampson. She had previously been married to J. J. Martin and sometime after Wright’s death married Newtown C. Churchill. She died in 1998.
Newspaper accounts state that Wright would be buried in the family plot of a cemetery in Anchorage, Jefferson County. No other details as to his final resting place have been found.
High-Ranking Shelby Officer Expires
Newspaper Clipping Unknown
Hattiesburg, Jan. 22—(AP)—Lieutenant Colonel Walter F. Wright, 52, of Louisville, Ky., executive officer of the 63rd Field Artillery Brigade, died Tuesday in a Camp Shelby infirmary while awaiting the extraction of a tooth. His body was sent Wednesday night to Avaco, Ky., (Jefferson County) for funeral services at 2 p.m. Friday. A lawyer in private life, Col. Wright had been executive officer of the 63rd Brigade since 1929. He served overseas during the First World War and was a regular Army instructor after the war.
He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Emolyne S. Wright of Hattiesburg; two daughters, Mrs. Guest Hodge of Cincinnati and Miss Nancy Wright of Louisville; his mother, Mrs. Mollie Wright of Louisville and a brother, Oscar A. Wright of Louisville.
Colonel Wright Dies Suddenly at Camp
Hattiesburg American, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, 21 Jan 1942, Page 1
Lieutenant Colonel Walter F. Wright of Louisville, Ky., executive officer of the 63rd Field Artillery Brigade, died suddenly Tuesday night in a Camp Shelby Infirmary while awaiting the extraction of a tooth.
Colonel Wright had just entered the 138th Field Artillery infirmary and Captain Robert Miller, regimental dental surgeon, was preparing to administer an anesthetic when the colonel collapsed.
Captain Miller and Major Byron Bizot applied artificial respiration, using an oxygen respirator, but Colonel Wright failed to respond. He had not been in ill health prior to the sudden attack.
52 Years Old
Colonel Wright would have been 52 years old in March.
He had been executive officer for the 63rd Field Artillery Brigade since 1929. He was a World war veteran, and participated in every major engagement in which the American forces were involved. H was wounded in action and received the Croix de Guerre.
A graduate of the University of Kentucky, Colonel Wright began his military career in 1908 when he enlisted with the Coast Artillery Corps. He went to the Mexican Border with the 149th Infantry as a second lieutenant, and in 1917 commissioned a captain in the regular army.
He served overseas with the 15the Field Artillery, Second Division. Following the war he was a regular army instructor for two years at Fort Knox, KY., and for one year with the 33rd Division at Chicago.
Resigning from the Army in 1922, he entered law practice with his father, John W. Wright, in Louisville. In 1927 he joined the staff of the internal revenue department at Louisville, and subsequently became chief inspector for the alcohol tax division of the department for the states of Kentucky and Tennessee.
Since Colonel Wright came to Camp Shelby his wife, Mrs. Emolyne S. Wright, has been residing at 308 14th Avenue, Hattiesburg.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Mrs. Guest Hodge of Cincinnati, O., and Miss Nancy Wright of Louisville; his mother, Mrs. Mollie A. Wright of Louisville; and a brother Oscar A. Wright of Louisville.
Major Rollin F. Risen of Louisville assistant plans and training officer for the 38th Division, was a brother-in-law of Colonel Wright.
Accompanied by Major Risen and an officer from the 63rd Brigade, the body will be sent tonight from Gulfport to Avoca, Ky., where funeral services will be conducted at 2 p.m., Friday.
Fairchild and Richard Funeral home is in charge of arrangements here.