Marking the passing of a hero and friend

Posted by Pat Kinney on Wednesday, March 13, 2024

UPDATE: A celebration of life memorial service for Larry Walters will be held 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday May 4 at the Cedar Falls Amvets post. Graveside services will be 2 p.m. Monday May 6 at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery near Adel. Weather permitting AMVETS Riders will provide a motorcycle escort to the cemetery. Graveside military rite will be performed by the Iowa National Guard from Camp Dodge.

The Grout Museum District has received word that a real friend of the District, and of veterans, Vietnam veteran Larry Walters of Cedar Falls, has passed away after a long battle with dementia.

Larry served 30 years in the U.S. Army and Army National Guard, including 366 days in Vietnam in 1967-68 as a heavy machine gunner in the U.S. Army 1st Cavalry Division. He was involved in Operation Pegasus in the U.S. Army’s relief of embattled Marines at Khe Sanh.

Walters was one of a committee of Vietnam veterans who worked with the Grout Museum District to plan a special “365 Days and Counting: Iowans in the Vietnam War” exhibit at the Grout in 2015-16. Major elements of that exhibit are now part of the permanent Vietnam exhibit at the Grout’s Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum.

Vietnam veterans Dave Allbaugh, Larry Walters, Steve Wikert, Rick Reuter, Jim Cavanah and Tom Brickman are working with the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum to develop an exhibit on the Vietnam War for its 50th anniversary. Credit-Brandon Pollock, Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

A “welcome home” parade held in conjunction with the exhibit, and the Grout collaborated with the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier on a series, “They Served With Honor." It consisted of 50 feature stories with 50 Vietnam veterans over 50 days, including Walters, based on Grout “Voices of Iowa” oral history interviews and Courier staff interviews. It marked the 50th anniversary of the major escalation of U.S. involvement in the war.

Walters uniform, currently on display in the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum

The committee on which Walters served, the Grout and the Courier were recognized by the Iowa Tourism Council for the entire effort.

Walters also served as commander of Robert Hibbs Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3896 in Cedar Falls from 2006-2017. He also served on the Black Hawk County Veteran Affairs Commission, and was recognized as a “Hidden Heroism” honoree by the commission at its February 2024 meeting. Walters and fellow Vietnam veterans Rick Reuter of Evansdale, also a member of the Grout Vietnam project committee, were instrumental in starting a commission-supported project to construct disability accessible ramps for veterans to use to get in and out of their homes.

Walters served with the Army National Guard from 1972 to 2003. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, he served an active-duty deployment in conjunction with Operation Enduring Freedom, performing helicopter maintenance in Savannah, Ga. for Afghanistan-bound "Night Stalkers" special operations troops.

Walters also completed a degree and graduated from Iowa State University in Ames following military service. In 2015 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier interview, he noted he was perfect. 4.0 “A” student after a rocky start at ISU prior to his military service.

“My priorities were a little different,” he quipped.

Of his miltary and community service, he also said, simply, “I always liked helping people.”

Services for Larry Walters are pending. The Grout Museum District joins Larry’s family and friends in mourning his passing and honoring his service, in and out of uniform.

Clip from Larry Walters Voices of Iowa Interview

About The Author

Pat is the Oral Historian for the Grout Museum District.