Walter Eugene Jennings

Walt was born October 19, 1931, and was raised in Youngstown, Ohio, where he excelled as an athlete and student while attending Chaney High.  Following graduation Walt, a member of Hillman Lodge 481, F&AM, worked in a steel mill and as a surveyor.  During the  Korean War, Walt enlisted in the Navy where he served two years in the fleet and then on to the Naval  Academy Preparatory School (NAPS).  He then entered the Naval Academy and graduated with the Class of 1956. While a Midshipman, Walt showed early leadership qualities as a three striper.  He won the Silver Gloves as a brigade boxing champion in 1953.


Following graduation, Walt served aboard USS Boxer (CVS 21), then with bride Mary Ann they went to flight training in Pensacola, Florida. He then transitioned into the airship program at Glenco (Brunswick) Georgia, which had appealed to him during Midshipman days.  After training, they were transferred to Lakehurst, New Jersey, where Walt became a member of Airborne Early Warning Squadron One.  On 6 July 1960, Walt was on an intensive search mission over the Atlantic Ocean off New Jersey in his ZPG-3W radar blimp named Reliance, which was the largest non-rigid airship ever made.  During that operation, Reliance was lost at sea and Walt was reported missing with 18 of the 21 crew members.


Mary Ann returned to Ohio, then moved to California where she raised their two daughters Cheryl Ann and Toni Lynn, and her son John from her second marriage.