FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT/WYMT) - Dillon Walker had just graduated from Western Hills High School in Frankfort and was about to move on to college, but those who knew him say it's what he was doing outside the classroom that had a big impact.
Volunteers have been working for years to build a memorial to fallen members of the Kentucky National Guard. They found one of their biggest supporters in 18-year-old Dillon Walker. Walker's uncle, Kentucky National Guard Master Sergeant Clinton Cubert died after he was hit by an IED in Iraq. David Altom, a spokesperson for the Kentucky National Guard, says Cubert's death had a big impact on Walker.
"You could see in his eyes that he was very serious about life in general and he really held his uncle up to be a role model in his life," he said.
As part of a school project, Walker began documenting other fallen Kentucky Guard members to be included in the memorial being planned near Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort.
"We're looking at 60 names right now that he found for fallen soldiers and airmen that had died in the line of duty for the Kentucky National Guard. They wouldn't have been found if it hadn't been for Dillon's hard work," Altom said.
National Guard officials even made Walker an honorary guardsman. As much he admired the guard, though, his immediate plans were to move on to Eastern Kentucky University after high school to study aviation.
"He wanted to be a pilot, an aviator, and wanted to go and see the world," Altom said.
Those plans were shattered along with the hearts of Walker's friends and family early Saturday morning. Louisville Police said Walker and a 17-year-old were playing with a gun when it went off. Police charged that unidentified teen with murder. Altom said it'll be tough to see the memorial dedicated without Walker there.
"He expressed his desire to be at the dedication of the memorial and it looks like now that we're going to be remembering him as well as those other soldiers and airmen that have fallen," Altom said.
The memorial is set to be dedicated sometime around next Memorial Day. Clark Legacy Center in Frankfort will handle Walker's funeral.