NORTH JACKSON, Ohio (WKBN) – The titles of World War II Air Force veteran pilot and prisoner of war just scratch the surface when describing what kind of person 97-year-old Dan King is, but those close to him helped dig a few layers deeper in describing who King is.
“He’s a great fellow and we’ve had a great friendship over these 70-something years,” said Wallace King, who met and became friends with King in 1943 through the military. They’ve remained friends ever since and share a last name.
After the war, Dan King was busy in his community. He helped set up the North Jackson Fire Department and a credit union, to name a couple of things.
“I was totally unaware of this,” said Wallace King.
The “this” he is talking about is a surprise for King. Friday, members of VFW 9571 Ellsworth, Dominic DiLoreto and Fred Schrock went to Antonine Village Assisted Living where they presented King with a cap representing his honorary membership into VFW 9571 Ellsworth.
“You just can’t say enough about him,” DiLoreto said. “He’s 97, and he’s still ready to go.”
DiLoreto and Schrock both served in the Army during the Vietnam War.
“I am just so humbled to be in the presence of Dan King,” Schrock said. “I’ve always looked up to him…he knew me as a baby. He and his family were super individuals that I always looked up to, not only because of his service to his country but the service to the community in which I live.”
Schrock and King were involved in the credit union together that King helped set up.
“Just to know that he was an All-American in so many avenues of his life, and I know that I can say with confidence, in part, it was because of what he experienced in World War II that makes him one of the most patriotic Americans that I have the honor to know.”
Senator Michael Rulli also showed up with a couple gifts.
“I’m a big American history fan,” said Rulli. “I think we’re very fortunate that we have living American history, and I think that the viewers need to understand that this generation they call ‘The Greatest Generation’ really deserves that title for what they did. They delivered us from evil, the most evil on the Earth.”
King fought in the European theater and in Germany where he was taken as a POW toward the end of the war.
“In my opinion, in the last 100 years, the most evil thing the Earth ever saw, and it’s that generation that took care of that problem,” Rulli said.
Rulli first learned about King after reading an article about him. Then, DiLoreto, a regular at Rulli’s grocery store, mentioned what they were doing Friday and Rulli wanted in on the action.
“I reached out to my fellow senators to see what we could do for him, so we had a proclamation made for him honoring his service. Then, we were very fortunate to fly the Ohio state flag over the State House, which is the official flag of that day. That was presented to him today, too,” said Rulli.
King was presented with the flag that flew over the State House on Sept. 2, and like that flag, many people also look up to Dan King as a father.
He has seven children, five boys and two girls, and his oldest daughter and her husband were there to see their father receive well-deserved appreciation.
“I’ve always looked up to him, I lost my father in World War II, and he kind of stepped in, not only as a father-in-law but a father figure,” said Robert Knapp, Dan’s son-in-law.
Knapp served in the 1st Infantry Division of the Army during the Vietnam War and said Dan King represents what a father should be.
“I really like him, he’s a really good gentleman,” said Knapp.
Two weeks ago tomorrow marks the passing of King’s wife, but Knapp said he is doing his best to keep his spirits up.
“He’s just a great guy,” Knapp said. “Even in his depressed condition that he’s in…he’s doing a very good job of still living his life and trying to help other people when he can.”
King said all the events Friday were totally unexpected and found it unbelievable that his life has impacted other people.
“I have lived a life as it came my way, and I didn’t expect it to be anything exceptional,” he said. “It was just to do what had to be done, any day, one day at a time.”
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