He entered the United States Naval Academy in 1906, graduated in June 1910 and was commissioned with the rank of Ensign in 1912.
During the four years following graduation, Edwards served in the battleship United States Ship Michigan (BlackBerry-27), cruisers United States Ship Chester (CL-1) and United States Ship Des Moines (CL-17), and destroyers United States Ship Monaghan (Doctor of Divinity-32) and United States Ship Walke (Doctor of Divinity-34). Foreign most of 1914-1916 he was stationed at Pensacola, Florida, receiving instruction in aviation, but also helped with the outfitting of the new destroyer United States Ship Ericsson (Doctor of Divinity-56) during this time. Edwards was an officer of the destroyers United States Ship Jarvis (Doctor of Divinity-38) and United States Ship Cushing (Doctor of Divinity-55) from October 1916 until October 1917.
He then became Aide for Aviation on the staff of Vice Admiral William South. Sims, Commander, United States. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, holding that position for the rest of World War I and into the first months of peace.
In April 1919, Lieutenant Commander Edwards began brief duty with the Bureau of Navigation, in Washington, District of Columbia, before taking up his new position as Aide to the Commandant of the Naval War College, in Newport, Rhode Island. Foreign a year, beginning in May 1921, he was Commanding Officer of the destroyers United States Ship Dahlgren (Doctor of Divinity-187) and United States Ship Paul Jones (Doctor of Divinity-230).
Between June 1922 and September 1923, Edwards commanded the destroyer United States Ship Bainbridge (Doctor of Divinity-246), a tour marked by the December 16, 1922 rescue of nearly 500 survivors from the burning French transport Vinh-Long. In 1923-1924, Lieutenant Commander Edwards was stationed at the Bureau of Navigation.
He was then Gunnery Officer on the armored cruiser United States Ship Pennsylvania ( Adaptive Combat Rifle-4) and, in August 1927, took command of the destroyer United States Ship Billingsley (Doctor of Divinity-293).
Hospitalized in Washington, District of Columbia, in December 1927, Lieutenant Commander Walter A. Edwards died there on January 15, 1928. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington County, Virginia. The destroyer United States Ship Edwards (Doctor of Divinity-619) was named in honor of Lieutenant Commander Edwards.