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AMERICAN DREYFUS

Grover C. Walker of Winter Park has never given up his protest against the government over an injustice done to him over forty years ago. Walker is a former army and air force intelligence officer who also served as a special agent for the Pentagon. Although his twenty-five year service record was always exemplary, in 1962 due to a cutback in the numbers of officers, he was reduced in rank from a captain to a staff sergeant. Walker could have retired at that point as a reserve major, however, he elected to remain in Air Force intelligence as a sergeant. In September 1965 he was assigned to the secretive 7113th Special Activities Group at Rhein-Main, Germany.

Although Walker had worked in the intelligence business since World War II, he was placed in a low level position at his new assignment that he says “any basic recruit could have done.” He transferred into the organization as an outsider but soon found reason to suspect there were corrupt and subversive activities being carried out possibly by his superiors. But his biggest problem was yet to come. When he was gone for a few weeks for minor ear surgery he returned to find his desk gone. He was reassigned as a clerk in the library. When he threatened to “blow the whistle” on what was going on, he was whisked-off under guard to a superficial psychiatric exam that lasted only a few hours but branded him “chronically paranoid.” Grover says it was to stop him from causing an investigation or being believed. For twenty-five years in intelligence, he was as sane as any man and in an instant had been labeled crazy. He says it was a conspiracy Soviet-style to discredit him if he spoke out. Indeed available documents support Grover Walker’s story, but as he says, “Who will believe you when you’ve been labeled?”

In spite of the fact that he had been recommended and approved for retention, an elimination board of just three men determined him to be the “type to defect” and forced him out of the Air Force. He became known as the American Dreyfus because his story parallels closely the 1894 case of Alfred Dreyfus, Jewish lieutenant in the French army, who as the result of a conspired political injustice was sentenced to Devil’s Island. After the case gained international attention Dreyfus was found innocent and went on to serve as a lieutenant-colonel and was listed in France’s Legion of Honor. Strangely the fate of the Dreyfus and Walker cases were both determined on the 19th of December.

The Walker family returned to the United States, however, Grover could not seek government employment because of the stigma placed on him, he was denied unemployment compensation and for eighteen months had no income. Walker was eventually given his retirement as a major. In 1966 Major Walker began his fight to restore his dignity. He painted his house red, white, and blue, put up eight flag poles each flying an upside down flag as a symbol of distress. On the roof he originally had a huge billboard-length sign that read “U. S. Dreyfus.” Walker later erected a 91 foot pole with an upside down flag and published a pamphlet about his plight. The Walker home became a local attraction with twenty or more cars a day driving by just to see it. Major Walker said, “Some of them would stop and want to hear my story, and some just wanted to tell me that they had been through the same thing.” His wife joined him in protest writing thousands of letters to just about every politician and military commander in Washington. Walker’s case found its way into several newspapers and on talk radio an along the way several other former intelligence officers have come forward with similar situations.

When the Walkers began attracting too much attention to their case, the Air Force labeled Mrs. Walker with the same psychiatric label as the one on her husband. “It’s a game they play,” says Walker. “No one would believe it unless it personally happened to them.”

Grover Walker was a young lieutenant in 1952 when he met his wife Jean on Broadway. Originally from England, Jean Walker enjoyed a lengthy acting career with parts in over 100 films featuring stars like Robert Montgomery, Terry Thomas, and Angela Landsbury. Jean’s 1950 Screen Actors Guild membership card is signed by Ronald Reagan. But her acting career had not prepared her for the long protest to clear her husband’s name. The Walkers have been thrown in jail numerous times for their protests and on one occasion were escorted out of the Pentagon by fifteen policemen. Over the years Jean has suffered a stroke that she thinks is related to the stress of their struggle. The family was hit with tragedy in 1976 when their 5 year old son, David, was killed by a vehicle in England. Mrs. Walker was in England to attend the funeral of her father. She had just returned from visiting Scotland Yard and the U. S. Defense Attaché office in connection with her husband’s case when the accident happened. David’s body was flown back to the states on an air force plane and buried in Arlington National Cemetery. In later years all of their children have been active in their parents’ protest. Because of their on-going protest, anytime the slightest incident occurred in the neighborhood the police would immediately assume it was the Walker family. Major Walker recounted how on March 29, 1985, a sheriff’s swat team raided his property in response to a bon fire that was set by kids in the park across the street. He says it was an over-reaction to a minor affair and before it was over at least 70 deputies showed up. It was on that occasion according to Walker, that the deputies invaded his property and tried to take the upside down flag from his 91 foot pole.

It’s been forty years since Grover Walker began his fight with the system that he claims “assassinated his character and left him stigmatized for life.” The Walker property still reflects its original patriotic color scheme, although a little less brilliant, and the big signs have been removed from the roof, but the yard still has several upright signs telling about the case. The top portion of the tall 91 foot flag pole has been removed because of constant complaints from code enforcement and now sits in the yard as a memorial to that March 29, 1980 assault on the Walkers. From the remaining pole a faded and tattered flag hangs limp like a symbol of the Grover Walker’s well-worn protest. On the picket fence in front of the Walkers’ Tyree Lane home are dozens of small American flags, all flying up-right. They fly more flags than anyone in their Winter Park neighborhood. Will Major Grover Walker continue his record-long protest against the government? The answer can be found in a poem penned by Jean Walker titled “Walkers’ Motto, Never Give Up.”

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