Coahoma WWII POW Shares His Story

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

COAHOMA - He's a one-of-a kind hero. A Coahoma neighbor is part of an elite group of Americans: World War II veterans, but this isn't just any vet he's a prisoner of war who survived a Nazi prison. 

"We fought and won," MSG William King, 36th Infantry said. "We weren't messing around."

Master Sergeant William King is a rare member of what has become known as the "Greatest Generation." He was only 19 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor catapulting America into World War II. He got in the mail - what many were dreading - a call to duty.

"I felt bad," MSG King said. "I said, I'm ready to go if they need me!"

King joined the Texas National Guard in Colorado City. Then he traveled to Brownwood entering the 36th Infantry. While guarding B-17's in England, Sgt. King transferred to Casablanca, Africa. It was there his life turned around. German forces captured his unit and King found himself in a Nazi prison with thousands of others.

"Scared," he said. "They didn't feed us anything but sprouts and turnips - I guess dogs and cats - whatever moves around there. It was bad. That was WWII, you know."

After a year and a half wondering if he would ever make it home, freedom finally came.

"We weren't doing too much talking because we were scared, that war, bombing every night. Those pilots, you could hear them bombing you know," Sgt. King said.

But the turmoil wasn't over. A blast killed three inside his car narrowly missing Sgt. King.

"There were three in the back and me and the driver in front," King said. "It killed the three in the back - they're in that picture. I got pins in my knees - that's why I'm crippled."

At the time, no one would have recognized King's face, but his commanders were some of the most noticeable faces in American history. The closest to his heart, General George Patton who's credited with King's escape from the Nazi camp.

"Patton would get out and eat with us," King said. "He would say, I'm going to eat with the boys!"

While that Nazi prison may have seemed like the end of his life, Sgt. King says it actually saved him.

"I didn't know I was going to get sent to prison, but you see, that saved me," he told us. "I wasn't in the war. I was sitting up there in prison."

Today, this Coahoma man freely shares his story. And like so many others who have fought and paid a high price, it's his contagious love of freedom that is echoed by the millions of Americans - who for today - stopped to remember the ones who made a sacrifice.

"Nearly all the WWII's has passed away," King said. "I'm just lucky being 90 and still here."