Elijah King Jr., local veterans leader and advocate, passes away

By LYNETTE SOWELL

Cove Leader-Press

Members of the local veterans’ community are mourning the loss of Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Elijah King, Jr., 64, who died on Sunday in Killeen.

King was chair of the Central Texas Area Veterans Advisory Committee (AVAC), and the co-chair of the Fort Hood Retired Council. Additionally, King was a member of the Killeen Branch NAACP and served on the board of directors for Killeen Independent School District Communities in Schools, and on the Military Child Education Coalition.

King’s memorial service will be held on Friday, March 24 at 10 a.m. at Lifeway Fellowship in Killeen with Pastor Jimmy Towers officiating, with burial service to follow at noon at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery.

Joann Courtland, director of the Copperas Cove-based Operation Stand Down Central Texas (OSDCT), talked about what King’s loss to the local veterans’ community means to her. She served alongside King on the planning committee for the annual AVAC banquet, which recognized Vietnam veterans and local Gold Star families. AVAC Central Texas is made up of numerous local veterans organizations.

“His leadership was so very strong and dedicated in our veteran community, he ensured no matter the issue (large or small) that affected local veterans, it was brought up and the word put out to ensure nothing fell through the cracks,” Courtland told the Leader-Press. “CSM (King) supported all organizations as best he could as being one man, but we all knew that he cared and he was always offering mentorship, guidance and support.

As far as OSDCT, CSM King was so awesome in his support when we first started and it continued through the last two years. He would introduce Trudy (Bolton) and I to anyone and everyone so we could get the word out about homeless veteran support. He would even come to some of our earlier fund raisers and buy a T-shirt or coin to ensure we were getting a good start.

We could have never asked for a better friend and ally he always had a smile on his face and a good warm hug for Trudy and I. The veteran community will have a huge hole in its heart with the passing of CSM Elijah King. I personally will truly miss his friendship.”

Star Group-Veterans Helping Veterans, a local service group, issued comments about the loss of King, a lifetime member of SG-VHV.

“He will be truly missed. He gave his all to a grateful nation, the Star Group Veterans Helping Veterans Family, every Veteran and Veterans Organization. We will continue to pray for his wife, Ms. Debbie King, the King family and the entire veteran community because we lost a comrade much too soon.

“One of his many passions was to ensure all Vietnam veterans received the proper recognition and thank you for their service. He honored thousands of Vietnam veterans from all over Texas by personally pinning each of them with the Vietnam War 50th Anniversary commemorative pin and presented them their certificate and gifts with the grace and dignity they deserved.”

King retired from the United States Army in 2007 as the CSM of Fort Hood’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division after 30 years of military service. Born in Tuskegee, Ala. King served in Korea and Germany, and was a veteran of both Operation Desert Shield/Storm and served two tours with Operation Iraqi Freedom. He received commendations during his service of the Legion of Merit and three Bronze Stars.

King is survived by his wife, Debbie Nash-King, three daughters, one son and one grandson.

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