CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — A national tour honoring a World War II veteran made a stop at the West Virginia State Capitol Complex on Tuesday.
WWII veteran Sidney Walton passed away at 102 before he could complete his tour to raise awareness for the sacrifices of military members. Now, Walton’s family and friends are completing the “No Regrets Memorial Tour” in his honor to deliver his message.
Walton’s son, Paul Walton, traveled to six states after his dad’s passing in his honor. Unfortunately, Paul Walton has been fighting cancer, forcing him to pass the torch to family friend Kirk Webster. Webster said he happily agreed, and that the opportunity to carry on the “No Regrets Memorial Tour” has been an honor.
“[I’ve] known Mr. Walton for years. And so, when Paul asked me, he just said ‘Kirk would you—?’ And he didn’t have to even say one more thing. I said ‘I’ll be happy to do last remaning four states, Paul.”Kirk Webster, close friend of the Waltons & family representative
The “No Regrets Tour,” recently renamed the “No Regrets Memorial Tour,” was originally created in 2018 by Walton, who at 99 years old, realized he regretted missing an opportunity to meet Civil War veterans during the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Walton’s goal was to visit all 50 states and their governors to raise awareness for veterans and give people the chance to meet a WWII veteran.
“That was one of his regrets, and then he thought ‘Yes, I’d like to go to all 50 states and meet some other veterans and then pass along what’s been called the greatest generation.’ I mean, before they all pass.”Kirk Webster
In 1941, 22-year-old Walton left college “to join the Army to fight Hitler,” as he said. He trained at Fort Dix, New Jersey and was later stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina; Fort Toccoa, Georgia and Camp Silbert, Alabama.
The Army sent Walton to Virginia Tech to train for chemical warfare. Walton graduated with a chemical engineering degree and eventually was sent overseas to fight in India in the China-Burma-India Theater of WWII.
After the war, Walton returned to the U.S. and taught geology at Duke University. He also attended Yale for graduate studies in geology. In 1954, Walton married his wife Rena, and they later had three children, Paul, Judy and Eloise. Rena passed away from cancer in 1982, and Walton never remarried.
In 2018, Walton kicked off his tour by meeting his first governor, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo. He went on to meet a total of 40 governors, his 40th being Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. Walton passed away on Sept. 28, 2021, four days after meeting Stitt.
As of Thursday, the “No Regrets Memorial Tour” has stopped in all 50 states, including West Virginia. Webster, now a family representative in addition to family friend, visited Gov. Jim Justice’s office for a meeting with Ann Urling, Deputy Chief of Staff, and Press Secretary Nathan Takitch.
Webster had never been to West Virginia before stopping for the tour there on Tuesday. He was impressed by the Mountain State’s beauty and hospitality of those he met. Webster even got a West Virginia souvenir to take home, a photo of Justice and Babydog signed by the governor himself.
“What a beautiful, beautiful capitol building. I mean, I just love that golden, onion dome and all the green around it, and the trees and everything. Right on the river, that really jumped out at me. And the hospitality I received once I walked in the door was off the charts.”Kirk Webster
“The No Regrets Tour” visited its last two states, Pennsylvania and Delaware, on Wednesday and Thursday. To learn more about Walton’s legacy, visit the website dedicated to him and his tour.