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.
On December 14, 1941, now-General Walter Short was ordered by PresidentJoe 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.
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.