Native Sons


Native Sons


Date: September 12, 2013
by: Nolan Peterson | News Editor



Marine Corps Capt. Josh Walker, 32
Walker is currently deployed with Marine special operations in Afghanistan as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC), directing air strikes. Walker has deployed six times, including two deployments to Iraq, three to Afghanistan and one to the Philippines. Walker, whose hobbies include music, coaching football, boating and offshore fishing with his dad, graduated from Venice High School in 1999 and is a 2004 graduate of The Ohio State University. His parents, Richard and Carolyn Walker, and two of his six siblings, Joni Walker and Jami Holton, live in Sarasota County.

How did 9/11 affect you? What went through your mind that morning?
I was hunting in Texas with my brother on Sept. 11, 2001. One month prior, I had completed Officer Candidate School but still had three years of school before I would receive my degree and become a commissioned officer. I was eager to finish school and start active duty, so I could do my part to make sure nothing like those attacks would ever happen again. I was very sad for the victims and their families, and I felt a strong need to serve them.

Did the president’s visit to Sarasota that morning make the event more personal? 
Sarasota County is my home, and I remember thinking that its connection to the 9/11 attacks was pretty surreal. But what I took really personally was the fact that terrorists had killed thousands of innocent Americans.

What inspired you to join the military? 
I’ve wanted to be a Marine since childhood. From an early age I’ve been drawn to the honor of serving my country.

What do you miss most about home? 
I miss taking my folks out for a sunset cruise on my boat.

Air Force Capt. Drew Peterson, 27
Peterson is currently deployed to Afghanistan as the mission commander of a classified National Reconnaissance Office operation. Peterson is a 2004 graduate of Pine View School and a 2008 Air Force Academy graduate. Peterson’s parents, Guy and Cindy Peterson, his brother, Nolan Peterson, and his grandparents, Wesley and Joan Peterson, all live in Sarasota.

How did 9/11 affect you? What went through your mind that morning?
I was in 10th grade at Pine View. We watched the towers get hit, the Pentagon attacked and United 93 go down. I watched on live TV as a man and woman jumped from the towers, holding hands. I’ve never felt such rage as I did in that moment. It was hard to process what was happening because I was 15, but with my older brother as my role model, I decided right then and there that I would serve my country by joining the military.

Did the president’s visit to Sarasota that morning make the event more personal? 
The night of Sept. 10 my dad took me out to the airport to see Air Force One sitting on the tarmac. We stared at the plane for about an hour admiring the beautiful aircraft and the power it represented. Knowing that the president was in my city when the attacks began made me realize that these attacks were not just against an abstract target thousands of miles away. Having the president in my city on 9/11 made this war my war.

What inspired you to join the military?
My older brother attending the Air Force Academy had a big role. But 9/11 pushed the desire to attend a service academy from just being a cool thing to do into a way to make sure another 9/11 never happened. The freedoms we have as Americans should be cherished and guarded with everything we have.

Marine Corps 1st Lt. Brian Walsh, 25
Walsh is an intelligence officer for a Marine infantry battalion currently at sea at an undisclosed location. Walsh is a 2006 Booker High School graduate and a 2009 graduate of the Berklee College of Music. Walsh, who plays the drums and enjoys CrossFit, is married to Maria Amodio Walsh. His parents, Matt and Lisa Walsh, and two sisters, Emily Walsh and Kate Honea, live on Longboat Key, and his grandparents, David and Ruth Beliles, live in Sarasota.

How did 9/11 affect you? What went through your mind that morning?
When 9/11 occurred, I was in eighth grade. At first, I didn’t really know what was going on. I wasn’t very privy to world events and the threats that existed to Americans. When more information came out that a terrorist attack occurred, seeing people jump out of the World Trade Center and hearing those horrific 911 calls — it angered me. To this day, I still feel angry about it.

What inspired you to join the military? 
My upbringing was a big reason why I joined the Marine Corps. Both of my grandfathers were Marines, as well as an uncle of mine. I was raised by a patriotic family, who taught me why this nation is so great. I felt then, and I still feel today, that the American way of life is something worth fighting for.

What do you miss most about home? 
My wife, Maria, is what I miss most about home. I also miss the freedoms we have in comparison with most other countries. It’s amazing how much better life is when you can order a beer and not have to worry about going to prison or being sentenced to death for it.

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Currently 1 Response

  • 1.
  • Mr. Peterson,
    This was a well done piece to three local, 'under-praised' service personnel. On another note, I also liked your recent editorial relating your own 'story' of service to our country. And, your point of 'awareness' too was not lost on me either; it may seem insignificant, acting as one individual, but I will continue to honor our past and present military displaying my flag proudly and/or wearing red, etc. any day.

    Patti Clipse
  • Patti Clipse
    Wed 18th Sep 2013
    at 3:14pm
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