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WWII veteran celebrated at age 95

A World War II veteran recently celebrated turning 95 with a surprise birthday parade from the community.

Arthur King, a resident at The Aspen of Brookhaven, loves sitting on the front porch of the assisted living facility and greeting employees and visitors as they come in. That’s how administrative assistant Tyler Thames remembers King when they originally met nearly two years ago.

“Mr. King is my buddy,” Thames said. “I still remember my first day here, he was on the front porch. He always says, ‘Well, hello, Puddin,’ no matter what.”

Thames described how she and King would sit on the porch and watch for the LifeFlight helicopter that would take off and land at King’s Daughters Medical Center.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, Thames has not been able to interact with King and the other residents since they are not allowed to gather in groups in the building.

King’s birthday was June 15, and since his family was unable to visit him and celebrate the day of, a surprise birthday parade was organized for the following Saturday.

His daughter Peggy Bennett drove from Texas to be in the parade for her father. She also brought a cake for King and the other residents to share.

Bennett organized the parade and contacted family and friends in advance to join in.

“They weren’t going to make it on his birthday, so they came that Saturday,” Thames said. “I wasn’t there for it, but they said he absolutely loved it.”

King had no idea about the parade until that day.

“I didn’t tell him they were coming and I don’t think anyone else did,” Thames said. “I think he knew his daughter was coming, but I don’t think he realized it would be for a birthday parade.”

King’s birthday celebration was certainly different this year because of the coronavirus.

“Since Covid-19 has happened, the families can’t come in the facility and it’s been really hard for everyone,” Thames said.  “He always had a lot of visitors.”

Bennett was glad to be able to surprise her father, and she said he seemed to enjoy it.

“I think he enjoyed it, he acted very proud,” Bennett said. “He looked like he had a lot of pride.”

Members of the local VFW chapter and representatives of Copiah-Lincoln Community College participated in the drive by birthday parade for King, along with family and friends.

“It meant the world because we couldn’t go in and see him because of the virus,” Bennett said. “We wanted to do something to make his day special.”

King served as a staff sergeant in the Army for four years during World War II. He earned the Purple Heart in the Philippine Islands in 1945. During his time in the service, he traveled to New Guinea, the southern Philippines and the Philippine Islands.

King is originally from Jayess. He is the son of the late W.E. and Maggie King. A family of eight kids, King and three of his brothers served in the military. He departed from Camp Shelby when he left to go overseas. He also attended Co-Lin and spent time at sporting events at the college after returning from his military service.

 

Story by Gracie Byrne