Walter Short
Walter Short.jpg
Historical Figure
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: 1880
Date of Death: 1949
Cause of Death: Heart failure
Occupation: Soldier
Military Branch: United States Army (World War I, World War II)
Fictional Appearances:
Days of Infamy
POD: March, 1941;
Relevant POD: December 7, 1941
Appearance(s): Days of Infamy
Type of Appearance: Direct
Date of Death: Unrevealed
Joe Steele
POD: 1878;
Relevant POD: July, 1932
Novel or Story?: Both
Type of Appearance: Contemporary reference
Date of Death: 1941
Cause of Death: Execution by firing squad
Occupation: Military judge, soldier
Military Branch: US Army (World War II)

Walter Campbell Short (March 30, 1880 – March 9, 1949) was a Lieutenant General in the United States Army, responsible for defending U.S. military installations in Hawaii at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

After the attack, Short was demoted to major general and found guilty of dereliction of duty, having previously been more concerned about possible Japanese-American sabotage than by a Japanese military attack. Based on these priorities, Army planes were parked outside of the hangars so as to make them easier to guard, but this decision made them vulnerable to attacking Japanese planes. General Short retired from active duty on February 28, 1942. He next headed the traffic department at a Ford Motor Company plant in Dallas, Texas. He retired in 1946 and died in 1949 in Dallas of a chronic heart ailment.

Walter Short in Days of Infamy

Walter Short's poor preparations opened the door for the Japanese invasion of Oahu the day after the Pearl Harbor attack. By February 1942, it was obvious that U.S. ground forces could not keep fighting, and the U.S. miliary leaders of Hawaii ordered a surrender. Short and Admiral Husband Kimmel formally surrendered to General Tomoyuki Yamashita, Commander Minoru Genda, and Commander Mitsuo Fuchida in Iolani Palace. Both Short and Kimmel naively hoped that the Japanese would follow the Geneva Convention.[1]

Literary comment

The story does not tell what became of Kimmel and Short after their surrender.

Walter Short in Joe Steele

The military tribunal hearing of alleged traitor and Nazi spy Father Coughlin, was headed by U.S. Army colonel Walter Short, with Navy captain William Halsey, United States Army Air Force major Carl Spatz and first lieutenant Nathan Bedford Forrest III as the remaining members. The tribunal heard Father Coughlin confess under oath and so convicted him and sentenced him to death by firing squad.[2]

On December 14, 1941, now-General Walter Short was ordered by President Joe Steele to stand trial after the Pearl Harbor debacle. He and Admiral Husband Kimmel were swiftly convicted and executed for their incompetence. Despite having presided over the Coughlin trial, Short did not immediately understand what the likely outcome of his own trial would be.[3]

Literary comment

Short presiding over Coughlin's trial is unique to the novel. However, Short meets the exact same fate in both the novel and the story after the Pearl Harbor attack.


  1. Days of Infamy, pgs. 180-182.
  2. Joe Steele, pg. 123.
  3. Joe Steele, pgs. 249-252, HC.