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Father’s Accomplishments Leads to Lasting Tribute

Earnest William KingEarnest William King (1920–2011) was born on a farm in Blackridge, Virginia, where he grew up during the Great Depression as one of eight children. He was inducted into the U.S Army on Nov. 24, 1942 during World War II. After basic training in Camp Adair, Oregon, he served with Company K, 414th Infantry, 104th Division in the European Theater in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, where he was severely wounded on Nov. 17, 1944. He was honorably discharged from military service on Oct. 10, 1945.

He was a highly-decorated veteran of World War II, having received the Combat Infantry Badge, the Good Conduct Medal, the European Theater Service Medal, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Silver Star for gallantry in action and courage, bravery and supreme devotion to his comrades under fire. He personally paid an enormous price for our freedom and struggled with recovery throughout his lifetime, yet felt it was his duty to serve. He never regarded his medals and awards as anything special or mentionable, and they were even unknown to his children until much later in life when they became adults.

After his service in World War II, Mr. King returned to Virginia to begin life with his wife, Mary, whom he had married in 1944 before being shipped overseas to serve in the European Theater. He began work as a supervisor for a furniture-making company and became the father of four children in four years. His life seemed to be going in the right direction, yet he was haunted day and night by an extremely important promise he had made several years before but had failed to keep. When he was wounded in 1944 and lay dying for two days on the battlefield, he had promised God if He let him live, he would spend the rest of his life serving Him and helping his fellow man. To keep that promise, he enrolled in a seminary institution in 1954 and became an ordained minister in 1958.

From that time on, in addition to being a soldier for his country, Mr. King became a soldier for God. His abiding faith in God sustained him, and he carried a message of faith and hope to others wherever he went. He had an uncommon compassion for people and touched thousands of lives with his love, concern and support in the many churches where he pastored for over 53 years up and down the East Coast. When he retired from the ministry, he continued to be a source of inspiration and a Christian example to all those who had the privilege to know him. Many have said he was the most honorable man they ever knew.

For thirty-some years, Mr. King was a member of a combat support group for veterans at McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond, Virginia and eagerly looked forward to meeting with his “Band of Brothers” at every scheduled opportunity. He provided wisdom, encouragement and support and all of them displayed genuine love, respect and appreciation for each other. Mr. King always considered his association and comradery with this group of combat veterans to be the greatest honor of his lifetime.

Life was precious to Mr. King. He loved simple things and was captivated by the wonders of the world around him: a conversation with someone he never met before, a good sermon, good music, all things baseball, a flourishing vegetable garden, beautiful flowers, trees, birds, animals, and even clouds. His friends and family are certain he never forgot a single thing that ever happened to him in his life. He continually amazed them with the countless stories of his life, and the exact details of every situation he was describing, which made them feel as though they were there.

Mr. King was also a dedicated father and family man. He had four children, four grandchildren, nine great grandchildren and was devoted to his wife for sixty-seven years. His greatest joy came when his family gathered around him, and he delighted in telling others, when he had an opportunity, how proud he was of them.

To his family, Mr. King was truly a soldier for God and country: a humble, moral, genuine, honest, compassionate, righteous, honorable and extraordinary man who certainly left the world a much better place. Without question, he was a hero to many.

Ms. Lyndia R. King gifts this bequest to the USO as a lasting tribute in memory of her father, Earnest William King, to honor and celebrate his extraordinary life. Ms. King hopes that this soldier’s story will give inspiration to those men and women who defend our country and our freedoms and that this gift will express hers and her father’s heartfelt gratitude for their service and sacrifices that will never be forgotten.

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