COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) — A 100-year-old World War II veteran spoke at a Veterans Day brunch about his experiences as a pilot fighting in France during the war.
Even though Cortland native Wallace “Wally” King signed up to be a pilot as soon as he turned 18 in 1942, he hasn’t forgotten a thing in the 80 years since.
He piloted a P-47 Thunderbolt through 75 missions, until, in April of 1945…
“The plane caught on fire, and I jumped back up and engine was only half operating,” King said. “I had to bail out, and I got burned from the fire and the airplane.”
King, along with a few other Americans and some Germans, was rescued by a doctor. They hid in the woods in German territory for three days.
“We drove through without lights during the night to make contact with the American army on the old river. I went immediately into the surgical tent,” King said.
King was treated and went home in October 1945, and was awarded a Purple Heart.
King said though he appreciates the opportunity to be with and speak to other veterans, he doesn’t want to glorify war.
“It’s dirty, it’s nasty, and it’s evil, and it’s something not to be glorified,” King said. “Resist the temptation to make [it] more glorious or romantic or dramatic.”
King, along with Iraq war veteran Brian Kennedy, spoke at The Barn at Firestone Farms about their experiences. King has given many talks, especially to young people, and said he wants people to realize they need community, just like things were 70 years ago.
“We somehow have got to get beyond ourselves and realize we’re interdependent,” King said.