Reflections from Robert Walker

Reflections from Robert Walker

The following is an answer from Robert S. Walker* in response to a questionnaire sent out to CPSers by Paul Wilhelm and compiled in 1990. This excerpt is in response to the section asking the men to "Rate the camp project":


"I walked out of CPS 56 in disgust at the way Selective Service was restricting the Brethren Service Committee who were supposed to run the camp. The local US Forest Service people were not of the best calibre but with the draft I did not expect to have top-rate people in their positions. CPS 56 planted trees on the Oregon Coast. They have grown into a beautiful and sizeable forest.

We were also trained as emergency forest fire control crews. We did not know at the time but learned later we were trained to handle spot fires caused by the Japanese fire baloons [sic]. We did work on several fires...

I walked out in October and wound up sentenced to 3 years, in the Federal District Court of Portland, Oregon in March, 1944. I spent 2 years and 3 weeks in the McNeil Island Federal Prison in Puget Sound along with a number of other COs, Jehovah's Witnesses, draft dodgers and regular 'cons.' It was quite an experience which gave me a rapport with some of the "ex-cons" among the delegates to the United Nations when I led tours there from the New Hampshire Council on World Affairs from 1957 to 1964. Many of the CO ex-cons are in important positions today in various places and fields. It's fun for me to see them in their august roles today and remember them sharing stolen fruit in prison."


--Taken from Wilhelm, Paul A. Civilian Public Servants: A Report on 210 World War II Conscientious Objectors. Washington D.C.: National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors, 1990.

*Note: the report states his name as Robert J. Walker; however, he is listed in the revised 1996 directory by the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors as Robert S. Walker.