Master Sergeant Toni Walker was born in Cleveland, Ohio on December 23, 1944. She enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps in March 1965, completing basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama before attending advanced training as a Food Service Specialist at Fort Knox, Kentucky. While stationed in Okinawa as a cook, Toni came to the notice of Special Services and was asked to be a part of their show, playing the drums, singing, and dancing. They toured for three months.
In 1967, she was a part of the first WAC unit in Vietnam. Assigned to the mess hall at Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), she served about two years in theater. The WAC unit spent time in Saigon and Long Binh and often worked between 12 and 16 hours a day. Walker performed in several USO shows while in Vietnam, opening for the Bob Hope Christmas Show in 1968.
After a permanent change of station to Fort Monroe, Virginia, Walker continued to sing in various post performances, as shown in the above photograph. At Monroe, she served as the first cook at the WAC Company Mess Hall.
In 1969, several of the first WACs in Vietnam were stationed at Fort Monroe, and First Sgt. Betty Benson decided to host a “Vietnam returnees” reunion at her Hampton home. Walker proudly attended, pictured second from the left in the back row.
Toni Walker retired from the Army Reserve in 1991 as a Master Sergeant. She passed away on April 25, 2006.
Much research had already been done on Walker’s story prior to our knowledge of her connection to Fort Monroe. In 2015, Donna A. Lowery published Women Vietnam Veterans which biographs hundreds of women who served during the Vietnam War, including Walker. We added some items from our own collection to the mix, including the photograph above, found in our image collection filed under entertainment. She also is featured in at least two Casemate Chronicles, the local Fort Monroe newsletter. If anyone would like to add more information to this biography of Master Sergeant Walker, please contribute here!
Lowery, Donna A. Women Vietnam Veterans: Our Untold Stories. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2015.
Fort Monroe Authority. “Gloria Ann ‘Toni’ Walker.” Illuminating Shadows, April 18, 2023. [access date]. [URL].