- [S74] Atchley Funeral Home Records, Volume IV, 1987-1999, Larry D. Fox, (Smoky Mountain Historical Society), 13 May 1989.
Lillie Mae Huskey King obituary
- [S4] Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee), 16 Jun 2000.
Maude King Ownby Obituary
- [S99] Farrar Funeral Home, (http://www.farrarfuneralhome.com), 22 Oct 2005.
Mayford King obituary
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 11 Nov 2007.
King's memories of war remain strong, emotional
By: Stan Voit, Editor
November 11, 2007
When the allies were fighting the Germans in Salerno in 1943, Clell King was a scared 23-year-old with a young wife and baby daughter back home in Gatlinburg. A member of the 636th Tank Destroyer Battalion, he and his fellow soldiers faced almost nightly air attacks from the enemy. The pilots of those big German planes would dive down every night and spray the area with machine gun fire.
It was frightening, but so was the ride over from Africa where he had been training. His ship was assaulted every day by German war planes trying to sink it. Every hour, it seemed, the ship would have to fight off enemy pilots. King remembers bombs dropping behind the ship and in front of the ship, but never on the ship.
War is hell, and nobody knows that better than Clell King. He and the thousands of soldiers in the U.S. Army were fighting for their nation's freedom, and King was fighting to win a war and get back home to his family.
Because he was riding inside a tank, King felt safer than the foot soldiers who were vulnerable to attack from any direction.
King had entered the service in July 1942. Less than a year later he was in Salerno as part of the invasion of Italy, with the allies trying to push the Germans back.
Soon it was Thanksgiving, and the cooks fixed a traditional Thanksgiving meal for King and his battalion. King's company commander, a man he respected, approached him that day as darkness neared.
"Clell," the commander said, "I need your help. I've got a company of men near the front line, and there's nobody else I can send up there to give them Thanksgiving than you. Will you do it?"
King was being asked to drive a Jeep all by himself a few miles to the front line. He couldn't use his headlights. He had to drive by the light of the moon and exploding bombs nearby. It was high-risk stuff.
Of course he would do it.
The Jeep was loaded with turkey dinners, and King set out on a perilous journey.
"I imagine it took an hour or so," he recalled 64 years later. "It was harrowing, I'll tell you that. I could barely see the outline of the road as I drove along,"
King reached the front and handed out the meals. A grateful company of men thanked him. He drove back to his station, praying to God along the way that he had survived and made it through.
Clell King served in the Army from 1942 to the end of the war. Back home his wife, the former Lillie Huskey, and infant daughter Sue had grown older by three years. When he made it back to Gatlinburg, he reminded his wife what he had told her before he shipped out.
"Honey," he told her in the summer of 1942, "I'm going to war and I don't know how long I'll be, but you'll probably have a preacher for a husband when I get back from this war."
Indeed, that's what Lillie and Sue got. King attended Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute in Hendersonville, N.C., under the GI Bill. And thus began a 32-year career as a Baptist preacher. He started serving a church in Greenback, Tenn., where he helped the congregation build a new sanctuary. Then was called to churches in Rogersville and Morristown before being named pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church on Chapman Highway, where he served for seven years.
He was pastor of Hartford Baptist in Cocke County for 10 years.
King, now 88, retired from the ministry in 1989, the same year he lost Lillie.
A year later he married his current wife, Betty Jean.
King wasn't the type to sit around telling war stories all these years. Yes, he did incorporate the war in some sermons and he attended a couple of World War II reunions, but he was not a guy who lived in the past. But he did have an unfulfilled wish: He wanted to see the World War II Memorial in Washington.
A few weeks ago King and some other veterans did just that, taking a trip to the nation's capital to see the memorial. It was an emotional experience for Clell King, especially when he saw recognition of the Battle of Salerno.
"I lost some good men there," he said. "It brought back a lot of memories. They had a display showing where the invasion was. I thought a lot about my buddies who didn't make it. It was touching. I cried. But I am glad I saw it."
Now a resident of Sevierville where he and Betty Jean are members of First Baptist, King feels a closeness to Veterans Day and honors its meaning and purpose.
He remembers when his fellow soldiers got word in 1945 that the war was over, that Germany had surrendered.
"I was so thrilled, I thanked the Lord it was over with," he said.
And he thanks the Lord every day about his life since then.
- Stan Voit is editor of The Mountain Press. His column appears each Sunday. He can be reached at 428-0748, ext. 217, or e-mail to email@example.com.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 25 Sep 2012.
Rev. Clell King, right, served as pastor of Pigeon Valley Baptist Church for ten years. He and his wife, the former Betty Jean Cagle of Hartford, now reside in Pigeon Forge.
- [S58] Marriage Certificate.
Groom's Name Bride's First Name Bride's Maiden Name County Date of Marriage File #
KING CLELL M BETTY J [NOT GIVEN] COCKE 01-06-1990 00398