Benton County

Walter Orville Haloupek

Born 18 May 1921
MIA 01 Oct 1944


Walter Orville HALOUPEK was born 18 May 1921, in Belle Plaine, Benton, Iowa. Walter was the fourth child of Frank and Katie (SEVCIK) HALOUPEK.

Walter was a great athlete. He wrestled in the heavyweight class at Cornell, and went to the NCAA Championships in 1941 and 1942. The second time he was pinned at 8:31 by Shuford SWIFT, Navy. Shortly thereafter, Walt was in the Navy! I don't know if he ever met up with Shuford Swift again. Swift became the Captain of a US Navy Destroyer.

He was a physics major at Cornell, and an excellent student, graduating in 1943. Walt made first all-conference team in the Midwest Conference, 1942. He joined his brother Don in the Cornell College Sports Hall of Fame. He was drafted by the Washington Redskins football team, but only played one exhibition game before going to fight in WWII, with the US Navy. 

As Walt wrestled in the heavyweight class, and played center in football, he must have been a big fellow. I'll never know why he chose to be cooped up in a submarine!

Walt enlisted in the US Naval Reserve on 26 Oct 1942, but still managed to graduate from Cornell in the class of 1943. He then accepted an appointment as Midshipman on 27 Sep 1943, and became Ensign on 20 Dec 1943. He spent some time at the US Naval Academy, and reported for duty on the submarine USS Harder on 4 Aug 1944, a year and two days before an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The Harder had already been on five war patrols in the South Pacific. Walt came on board for the sixth and final patrol. 

 On August 5, 1944, the HARDER left Freemantle, Australia bound for the area off the west coast of Luzon, Phillipine Islands. The HARDER proceeded to the designated patrol area where she rendezvoused with the USS HAKE and the USS HADDO with which she was to operate in the coordinated attack group between Manila and Lengayen Gulf. The HARDER's periscope was last seen by the HAKE on August 24 off Caiman Point. The HARDER at the time was apparently attempting to attack a damaged Japanese destroyer. An efficient Japanese hunter-killer group was reported to be operating in the area at the time. She was not heard from after that and was listed as overdue and presumed lost. However, the HARDER had reported earlier in the patrol that she had sunk one Japanese destroyer of 1,200 tons and one transport of 4,000 tons.
    For her daring exploits in the war, the HARDER was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Other awards given her officers and men included an Army Distinguished Service Cross, four Navy Crosses; four Legion of Merit Awards; five Silver Star Medals; and 11 Bronze Star Medals.
    The HARDER (SS-257) was built by Electric Boat Co., Groton, Connecticut. She was launched in August, 1942, and commisioned in December of that year.

Office of Public Information
Lt. (jg) James G. Ellis
February 21, 1946

Rev. G.W. Crosby led the memorial service for Walter, at the Congregational Church in Belle Plaine. According to Rev. Crosby, Walt took the place of another officer on this dangerous mission, arguing that he had no wife or children at home.

Tragically, Ensign Walter Orville HALOUPEK was lost at sea in 1944 when his submarine, the USS Harder II, was destroyed. The Harder had gone missing on 1 Oct 1944, almost 2 months after Walt signed on. The Harder had a heroic campaign, having sunk more than 20 Japanese warships.

Source: The above article about Walter O. Haloupek was written by his nephew, Bill Haloupek. Permission to repost on this website given by Bill Haloupek.