Bunting was working at the DuPont gunpowder plant at Carney's Point, New
Jersey when he registered for the draft on June 5, 1917 and subsequently
enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Service. He married Lillian Thomas Scotten
before going off to the Army. Walter Bunting learned to fly and became
an aerial inspector. He was preparing to go to France when the war
ended. Walter Bunting remained in the Army after the war ended. The 1920
Census shows that Second Lieutenant Walter Bunting was stationed at the
Camp Harry J. James Military Post at Douglas, Arizona where he was
serving as am member of the United States Army Border Air Patrol, which
had been organized in July of 1919 to put an end to Mexican bandit raids
along the border, using World War I vintage DeHaviland DH-4
being discharged from the Army, Walter Browning was determined to keep
flying, and took a position with United States Aerial Mail Service on
November 15, 1920. The Aerial Mail Service also used DH-4s, which had
been modified to carry mail.
Bunting was assigned a regular route which took him from Omaha, Nebraska
to Salt Lake City, Utah and began flying this route on December 1, 1920.
The aircraft he flew was a DeHaviland DH-4, a model which first saw
service during World War I.
distance flying across the plains and into the Rockies was a dangerous
proposition, especially in well-worn planes with no radio or anything
vaguely resembling modern navigation equipment. Walter Bunting survived
a crash in December of 1920 and another in April of 1921, and a forced
landing at the end of that month. He did not survive a third crash, on
May 5th 1921, at Rock Springs, Wyoming. It was the fifth fatality
involving the crash of a Mail Service DH-4 that year. Initial reports
stated that Walter Bunting was killed when the plane exploded, but
subsequent investigation revealed that he had been killed on impact and
that his body was burned after he had died.
official account states that on May 5, 1921, Walter M. Bunting was killed while coming in for a landing at Rock Springs, Wyoming, when his airplane dove into the ground. He was 50' in the air as he passed the hangar, and his motor sounded fine according to witnesses. One witness stated that "the airplane was being climbed too steeply to get speed quickly and therefore when he made his first turn he lost some 50'. He continued to climb after turning and when his airplane was up about 150' it seemed to have a slight miss but apparently revved up good." Bunting banked too much and went into a steep spin from which he could not recover.
Bunting's widow, Mrs. Lilliam T. Bunting of Carney's Point, New Jersey, was awarded the standard $35 per month compensation for as long as she remained unmarried.
Letters recovered from the crash had explanatory slips placed in them and were forwarded if possible.
The slips read:
This letter salvaged from Air Mail airplane which was destroyed by fire at Rock Springs, Wyoming, May 5,
Bunting's body was returned to New Jersey. He was survived by his wife,
his parents, brothers William J. and Raymond J. Bunting, and a sister,
Marguerite Bunting, and a nephew, Raymond Walter Bunting. Tragically,
Raymond Walter Bunting was also killed in a plane crash while serving
with the United States Navy in November of 1942, and a first cousin,
Second Lieutenant Bruce R.
Bunting, was killed in action serving with the United States Army
Air Force while on a bombing mission in Italy on September 10, 1944.