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!!!