New scholarship fund honors late alumnus Gibson

First Row: Capt. W. R. Fuller; 1/Lt. J. N. Hayes; 2/Lt. C. J. Whitley; 2/Lt. R. Hollar; 2/Lt. R. I. Rabb; 2/Lt. W. Gibson.
Second Row: 1/SGT. S. F. Cheatham; SFC. G. W. Griggs; SFC. H. L. Horta; SFC. T. E. Herring; SFC. M. B. Kunzig.
Third Row: Cpl. A. L. Clements; R. L. Sanders, Guidon Bearer.

In 1968, Walter “Hoot” Murrah Gibson commissioned as a second lieutenant into the U.S. Army from the University of North Georgia. A little more than a year later, he was killed in action while serving in Vietnam.

Gibson’s father, Eddie Gibson, wished to memorialize his son through a permanent scholarship endowment, and made provisions in his will to leave $100,000 to establish the Lieutenant Walter Gibson Memorial Scholarship Fund. Eddie Gibson, who served during World War II in the 391st Signal Company for the Army Air Force in Italy and Africa, passed away on March 30, 2016.

Walter Gibson earned the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with One Bronze Star, the Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantry Badge, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Expert Badge with automatic rifle bar.

In his gift to the University of North Georgia Foundation, Eddie Gibson indicated his desire to establish an endowed scholarship fund to provide annual assistance to one or more deserving junior or senior cadets of good standing who are pursuing a commission in the U.S. Army with the intention to serve at least one tour of active duty.

“Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Gibson, our memories of Lt. Walter Gibson and his service to our country will live on in perpetuity,” said Phil Collins ’75, development officer for the Corps of Cadets and executive director of the Corps Advisory Council.

According to a biography that included contributions from Eddie Gibson and Gibson’s younger brother, Glenn, Walter was known around campus for his sense of humor. He was very active in campus life and his roles included platoon commander of Charlie Company, junior class treasurer, and chaplain for the Non-Commissioned Officers Club.

“He was a pretty outgoing boy who had lots of friends,” Eddie Gibson said in the biography.

Gibson graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration, and began serving in the Army as an Infantry Unit Commander in the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, also known as the Currahees. He was stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana, for nine months before beginning his tour in Vietnam on July 18, 1969.

“I had nothing but the highest regard for this outstanding officer,” wrote Jean R. Emery, Gibson’s commanding officer at Fort Polk. “He was extremely competent and well respected by all who knew him, both superior and subordinate. Upon his departure from this unit, I ranked him number one of the 10 lieutenants whom I rated.”

Gibson

On the morning of Oct. 28, 1969, Gibson and his platoon engaged an enemy position during a combat operation, and Gibson was killed by Viet Cong small arms fire.

“Walter was one of the most outstanding young officers with whom I have ever been associated,” wrote Capt. Harry E. Rothmann. “He was a truly dedicated individual, whom we admired and respected. Walter was hardworking and conscientious in all that he did, and his personal courage on the battlefield won him the respect of all the officers and men in the company.”