Take the Flag for Hope Pledge Across America

Admiral Patrick M. Walsh – Flag for Hope Star #40

Four-Star Admiral
Location of Star Impression: Dallas, Texas
Date of Impression: May 28, 2016
Star Position on Flag: #40


For retired four-star Navy Admiral Patrick Michael Walsh, the Flag for Hope represents the underlying theme of his military career: a unified team is a successful team.

The Flag for Hope “brings us together in ways that are symbolic and also very, very practical and meaningful,” Walsh, 61, said in his Dallas home, where he painted the 40th star on the Flag.

“The hands of those who touched that Flag, together with the stars and the bars, represents the greatness of our country, of what we can do when we’re united in mission and purpose, what we can do for each other,” he said.

It was that kind of perspective that guided his 34 years of service in the Navy.

Naval Career

Walsh was a fighter and a test pilot with exceptional skills and intellect. He earned a spot in the revered Blue Angels and flew with the “Golden Warriors” of Strike-Fighter Squadron 87.

Of his Blue Angels experience, Walsh said the breathtaking and difficult aerial maneuvers were the result of teamwork. Being able to “listen to criticism and work closely together” made dreams come true he told youngsters at a TEDxKids conference in 2013.

Then, he implored: “(We) served in the Armed forces so that all of you can have your individual dream. If you have a dream, it will guide you…Dreams built this country.”

The Dallas native also flew in the Gulf Wars and rose through the ranks to become the 59th Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet for more than two years before retiring in January 2012. The U.S. Pacific Fleet is the largest fleet in the world with 180 ships, 2,000 aircraft, and 125,000 sailors, Marines, and civilians.

Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, Dallas Police Assistant Chief Christina Smith, FDNY Battalion Commander Jack Pritchard

Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, Dallas Police Assistant Chief Christina Smith, FDNY Battalion Commander Jack Pritchard at ceremony to place final hand print on The Flag for Hope in Dallas

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake struck Japan. Walsh oversaw Operation Tomodachi (Operation Friend), the U.S. military’s massive humanitarian and disaster relief effort that deployed 20 U.S. naval ships, 140 aircraft and 19,703 U.S. marines and sailors, plus utilized the personnel and resources of U.S. bases throughout Japan.

The operation delivered 246 tons of food and 21 million gallons of water, and dealt with the containment of nuclear radiation. 

“By any measure, Operation Tomodachi reminded us, that we are part of the great fabric of community, where one generation cares for and nurtures the next and provides support to each other,” Walsh said in a November 2011 speech to accept the Eagle on the World award. This honor is presented to individuals who have demonstrated exemplary leadership in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations and international affairs, and is bestowed by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York.

Walsh said Operation Tomodachi was organized for unity of effort, a “horizontal arrangement based on collaboration, transparency, and coordination” rather than “authority.”

He said the U.S. military took a supporting role to Japan’s Self-Defense Forces without any quid pro quo (expectations of favors in return for helping) to “prove, beyond measure what it means to be a friend.”

“As long as there are forces that challenge peace and prosperity, our work together must continue,” Walsh said. “The spirit embodied in that friendship will never wither and die.”

Prior to serving as Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Walsh:

  • joined the “Gunslingers” of Strike-Fighter Squadron 105,
  • commanded Carrier Air Wing 1 aboard USS John F. Kennedy, and Carrier Group/USS John C. Stennis Strike Group, and
  • commanded the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet, while commanding the Combined Maritime Forces conducting Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and maritime security operations.

Awards and Decorations

Walsh’s awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal (2), Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (4), Meritorious Service Medal (2), Air Medal w/ Combat V, Strike/Flight Medal (5), Navy Commendation Medal (3) w/ Combat V, Navy Achievement Medal, and Presidential Service Badge.

Walsh is also an academic. He –

  • graduated with honors from Jesuit College Preparatory,
  • graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science degree,
  • completed graduate studies in the International Relations curriculum at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University,
  • graduated first in his class with a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and
  • entered the Doctorate Program with distinction and subsequently received a Ph.D.


At his retirement ceremony, Walsh expressed the motivation behind his military service:

If ever there was a country worth living in
If ever there was a country worth defending
If ever there was a country worth fighting for
If ever…in the history of the world there was a country whose values and principles were worthy of our sacrifice…it is the United States of America.