BURLINGTON, N.C. – An American hero finally received an honor he deserves, more than seventy years later. Tech Sergeant Albert King's 91-year-old widow accepted he Purple Heart for him in Burlington on Thursday.
King was wounded in 1943 during WWII and later died in 1998. Family members said they have spent the past 15 years trying to get King the Purple Heart and with the help of Congressman Robert Pittenger's office, it finally happened.
The family said the U.S. military said some of its records were burned in a fire and that's why King did not receive his Purple Heart earlier.
King served on the volunteer regiment of Merrill's Marauders, which led a mission into Burma, India to fight the Japanese. It's a mission not very many people know about. 3,000 American soldiers went to battle and only 100 survived. While in the jungle, King got malaria, typhus fever and dysentery. His leg was also wounded and later got infected.
"And see where he was in the jungles fighting, it was a bad place to be with all the diseases, what they had to eat and how they had to live," King's widow, Dorothy, said.
She said all of the diseases he fought led to long-term stomach problems and at times he could only eat baby food. She said those issues ultimately led to his death. He was 77 years old when he died.
"Remember them and appreciate what they do because they're saving our country, trying to save our country and they go through a lot," Dorothy said.
Dorothy said she's nervous about Thursday's Purple Heart presentation, but also excited. She just wishes her husband could be there for it.
"He would be so, so very proud. And I wish it was him instead of me that had to receive it," she said.
Albert King left the service in 1945 and married Dorothy in 1950 in Greensboro. Dorothy said he loved working in the garden and called it therapeutic for him.
The public is invited to come to the Purple Heart presentation Thursday at 2 p.m. at Holly Hill Baptist Church in Burlington. Pastor Kenny Black said military officials and the Burlington mayor are expected to attend the event. Jack King, Dorothy and Albert's nephew, said members of the Rolling Thunder motorcycle group are also expected to make an appearance.