James Doak Walker, retired Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer and a long time Juneau resident, crossed the bar Sunday January 6, 2019 in the care of his family and friends. He was preceded in death by his wife Audrey. He is survived by his son and daughter in law Jim and Jayme Sullivan and his daughter Lori Scott and son in law Joe Rice. Doak was born in Fowlerville New York on April 17, 1933. He enlisted in the Coast Guard September 21, 1954 and retired as a Chief Radioman on April 1, 1983. During his career he was awarded 6 good conduct medals, the Coast Guard Unit Commendation Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Viet Nam Armed Forces Meritorious Unit Citation and the Coast Guard Achievement Medal. He served on several shore stations as well as the CGC Pontchartrain, CGC Bering strait (twice), CGC Blackhaw (twice), CGC Winnebago and the CGC Mellon. While on the CGC Pontchartrain he was involved in the rescue of Pan American World Airways Flight 6 when it ditched on Ocean Station November (halfway between Honolulu and San Francisco) on October 16, 1956. It was the last leg, Honolulu to San Francisco, of an around the world flight. The Pan American Clipper Sovereign of the Skies tail number 90943 was a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser. It lost two engines and due to excess drag didn't have enough fuel to make it to San Francisco or back to Honolulu so they ditched alongside the Cutter Pontchartrain. All 24 passengers and 7 crew members were rescued with no more than a few cuts and bruises. You can google Pan Am Flight 6 for the whole story. Doak kept in touch with several of the survivors over the years and when Pan American opened the B377 exhibit at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City New York they invited Doak to speak about the rescue. Doak arrived in Juneau in 1978 assigned to the 17th District Communications Center. In 1980 while serving there he went to locksmith school in his spare time and then founded Doak's Lock and Key. Upon retiring from the Lock Shop he sold the business to his Son. He worked for a short time for Air North out of Whitehorse Yukon Territory and cultivated many friendships in Canada. Doak also organized many Coast Guard reunions in Las Vegas and later in Reno. It started out as a 255 foot cutter reunion around 1998 and was held ever other year. It eventually became an all Coast Guard Reunion. He was a ships historian and had volumes of history on all the ships of his era. He was a member of the local chapters of the Moose, the Eagle and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Doak loved people and was always ready and willing to lend a hand if needed. He loved sports and had many friends who met at his place to watch football. Doaks Dugout was the scene of many joyous parties. He will be missed very much by his many friends and shipmates who loved him dearly. There will be a Celebration of Life pot luck at the Moose on Saturday January 19th starting at 5pm. Bring a dish and share your memories of Doak.
Published in Juneau Empire from Jan. 13 to Feb. 12, 2019.