Cedar Hill, Texas Chili’s

Julieta Chiquillo, of the Dallas Morning News, wrote a story that is going viral on FaceBook.  It has:

  • Donald Trump supporter
  • Elderly white WW-II vet, likely 88+ years old.
  • Younger black vet enjoying free veteran’s day meal a Chili’s
  • Service dog
  • young Chili’s manager who takes away vet meal.

The highlights of the article:

For his free meal on Veterans Day, Ernest Walker picked the Chili’s Grill & Bar in Cedar Hill. The 47-year-old sat at a table and ordered a burger while his service dog, Barack, waited by his side.

As Walker tells it, an elderly white man wearing a Donald Trump shirt approached him and said that he was in Germany and that blacks weren’t allowed to serve there. Walker, who is black, says he was wearing his old Army uniform.

In a widely shared Facebook post, Walker wrote that the manager claimed another guest said Walker was not “a real soldier” because he was wearing his hat indoors. Walker said he provided a military ID at the manager’s request, along with his discharge papers.

“The guest also said your dog is not a service dog,” Walker says the manager told him.

“Barack had his red service vest on, and his certified service tags,” Walker wrote. “I was sitting for 35 minutes prior with Barack beforehand. At this point I was grossly offended, embarrassed dehumanized …

The manager grabs his leftovers as Walker talks over him.

“You have a great day,” the manager says before walking away with the to-go box.

There is no doubt that Walker deserves an apology from the manager.

But there are some inconsistencies concerning Mr. Walker’s military service:

Walker said he was stationed in Hawaii in the 25th Infantry Division during the late 1980s. He showed his discharge form to an NBC5 reporter at a press conference Sunday.

There is photo in the article of a young Walker, in uniform with the caption:

Served Proudly 25th Infantry Division Tropic Lightning I was only 16 and homeless I had ran away from home at 13 and slept in 23 different houses when a recruiter saw me sleeping behind a Kroger and I sign up and it SAVED MY LIFE !!!!!

If we assume he was 17 when he enlisted, minimum age for enlistment, with parental consent, there are three possibilities for an Army enlistment with an honorable discharge:

  1. 3 year enlistment with 3 years reserve obligation, served circa 1986 – 1989
  2. 6 or more years enlistment but less than 20 years, served circa 1986 – 2005
  3. 20+ years with full military retirement benefits, served circa 1986 – 2006-2016.

The masthead photo shows Walker, wearing the uniform he presumably wore to Chili’s, Barack, with his vest and a lady I presume to be Kim Cole, his attorney.  NB! her firm is listed on his “Likes” section of FB.

cole

Getting back to the inconsistency.  His uniform has the 25th Infantry insignia on the right sleeve, indicating former wartime service.  The 25th Infantry Division saw only limited service in Desert Storm and Iraq and Afghanistan in 1991 and 2004/5.

insignia

It is strange that a combat veteran would identify his military service as Hawaii in 1980’s.

I contacted Julieta Chiquillo and got this response:

Thank you for writing. We reached out to the Army on Sunday to verify Mr. Walker’s service. We’ll update the story when we hear back.

11/15/16 Update

The National Archives has confirmed that Mr. Walker served in the Army from 1986 to 1988. I’ve updated the story to reflect this information.

Julieta Chiquillo

WFAA – ABC 13 reports:

Walker returned to the Chili’s Saturday with a small group of supporters to protest the Ceder Hill franchise location.

“I am a military veteran,” he said. “I served, I served my country. I did not go and fight a war but I stood ready.”

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