Saturday, July 23, 2011

The King Family Reunion

Today I was honored to have been invited to the Willie King Family Reunion in Griffin, GA.   Willie is one of the 74 lost on 3 June, 1969, when my former ship, USS Frank E. Evans (DD 754) was cut in half. 


















 
As you can see, they had some t-shirts made with Willie’s picture imposed above the ship.  A very cool shirt, indeed!




















But the height of the visit was in meeting Willie’s wife, Ophelia, who has stayed true to his memory all these years.   She is a gracious lady in her 80’s and a credit to his memory.  You can tell by the children, who are as nice and friendly as only those can be who are raised with all the love and caring can be given by a loving mother.




















This is some of the family. Willie's youngest son, Kelvin, is on the left next to Ophelia. I will have to find out the names of the other family members.

As with most of the families of that tragedy, the King family has had very little information about how Willie died and the cause of the accident.  They were starved for information and for contact with anyone who knew him.  Unfortunately there are no survivors from Georgia that I know of, and other former crew members who live in South Georgia were unable to attend.   However, I was able to give them what life was like on board a US Navy ship at sea during the 60’s, what little information I have been told about Willie and a little about the accident.

With any luck and the good graces of the Lord, I hope his wife, sisters and children, along with over 120 other kin people, have some peace and closure.  I do know they ask many questions and received something to pass on to other generations.  And I got a great reunion meal.  Good cooks, those King ladies.

As far as I know, this is the first family reunion any of the association members have been involved and I hope it is not the last.  It is a great way to get the family involved in our efforts to get the 74 names on the Vietnam Memorial Wall and to get some type of memorial in each state who had a lost member.

Thank you, King family, for allowing me to be a part of your day.  Lest We Forget!!!
.
.

11 comments:

Mike Golch said...

I am glad that you were adble to Honor Willie by going to the family reunion.

The Reckmonster said...

That is totally kick ass that you went to that reunion!! But, I'm a little confused - are you saying that Willie's name is NOT on the wall?! How can that possibly be??? Maybe I mis-read that but I am pretty sure you said you were trying to get those extra names ON the wall. My blood pressure is going up now...you KNOW how I am about mah veteranzzzz!!

The Reckmonster said...

Okay, I just got done reading and watching some videos about your former ship...I'm a bit embarrassed that the U.S. threw the Australian Captain under the bus and put the blame on him for that accident...but then again - when you have politicians "running" wars - that's what you get, right? That still doesn't answer why those 74 names aren't on the wall. Does it have something to do with the fact that you had to have had a foot on land to be considered in-theater? (I seem to remember some of my Vietnam Navy vets saying something to that effect - that their DD214s don't reflect "service" in-country during the Vietnam war...but they sure as hell were out there...loading barrels of agent orange to be ferried out to "dry land." Don't get me started...).

The Minute Man's Wife said...

Coffey, the more I read your posts and get to know you, the more I realize what an upstanding fellow you truly are. I think you're amazing - and kinda cute for an old timer! ;)

Coffeypot said...

Thanks, Mike, but I was the one Honored that day. They are such a great, loving family.

Rec, calm down, darling. It's a long story that I'll tell later. Now if you need some help in getting your knickers un-wadded...

Oh, the Navy did not have to have boots of the ground. Just operating in Tonkin Gulf was enough. At the time of the accident, she was 50 miles outside the Tonkin Gulf war zone.

TMMW, you had it right the first time. A degenerate pervert. There is nothing upstanding about going for a free meal. Burgers, grilled chicken, ribs, slaw, beans - damn it was good.

Joanne Messier-Derosiers said...

Thank you for attending Willie's family reunion. I am sure it meant a lot to his family to have you there.

Momma Fargo said...

Very cool. Nice of you to be there for the family and share somehow things that involved their loved one. Bravo and kudos. Thanks for your service and also MR. King's.

Beau's Mom said...

You're part of our bucket list. Some day, we will meet and sit and talk...drink...cuss....whatever it takes.

Mrs4444 said...

What a wonderful experience for everyone. My dad was a WWII vet; I would love to know more about his experience in Japan (He never said much about it.)

AirmanMom said...

Wow! No doubt, huge servings of Vegetable Soup of Emotion being passed around. So glad you were able to share in this special honor!
~AM

T. Roger Thomas said...

I'm glad to hear that you made it to the memorial.