Community Heroes: Blountville Air Force veteran who started with nothing becomes successful business owner, community worker


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) Many 17 year-olds find themselves planning for the future after high school, but this community hero said plans for his future were a bit hazy, do to the lack of resources his family had.

That is, until he found himself stumbling upon the United States Air Force, which lead him to be the community servant he is today

This week’s community hero is LaGrange, Georgia native and now Blountville resident, Jimmy L. King.

“I had no idea when I got up that morning. Air Force wasn’t even on my mind,” United States Air Force veteran, Jimmy L. King said.

He was a young boy, nearing his high school graduation who assumed he had no future in sight.

King said, “I was going to get a job in the cotton mill in Georgia. Went over to take the physical- passed it.”

However, destiny had more in store for King, who at the time was 17.

“I was supposed to go into work the next week. I ran into a recruiting sergeant in my hometown, which happened to be my brother in-laws brother,” King said. “He happened to be there. I think it was God sent.”

In 1954, he joined the air force, and set forth for basic training in San Antonio, Texas. followed by Colorado, El Paso, Texas, Pusan, Korea and Japan.

King said, “To serve my country and to wear the uniform, I was proud of it as I went on.//”It was the most exciting trip of my life. Joining the Air Force.”

The airman first class went on to receive an education that he says never would have happened, had he not joined.

King said, “Mainly was financial reasons because of my mother. She was disabled and I came from a family of nine and I was next to the last one. At that time, we didn’t have the money for education, school and so forth, so I joined the Air Force to send money back home, to help her.”

Upon his return in 1968, king started his own clothing store called ‘Country Squire LTD’ with his wife, in Bristol, which lasted until 2002. The couple had to close the business due to King’s wife, Viola, being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He took care of her for about 15 years, until she passed away.

In between then, he joined the chamber of commerce and volunteered in his community.

“Just a real nice guy and easy to get along with,” longtime friend and fellow pilot, Richard Cantly said. “He’s doing well for 84, I just hope that I’ll still be going when I get his age.”

Now, at 84, King can be found cruising at 3,000 feet in the air, reminiscing on when he paid tribute to our nation.

And that is why he’s our community hero.

If you know someone who makes our community a better place to live, we want to hear from you! Nominate them to be an ABC Tri-Cities Community Hero! Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to nominate them.

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