World War II Army veteran King Barrier, a Hometown Hero

Published: Feb. 27, 2013 at 4:35 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 15, 2014 at 3:05 AM CST
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Although World War II veteran King Barrier of Lubbock was drafted into the United States Army when he was just 18 years old, he said he was ready for it.

"I expected it because all of my other friends had gone to the service and I knew I was going to be next," said Barrier, 88.

In 1944, the young solider left the states and headed for Europe for the callous war.

"We were bombarded there almost daily by the Germans," he said.

He said at that time digging a fox hole was the best means for protection.

"I got in the hole and there was another solider that had been shot and he was dead. I never could get him to utter any sound. He was just dead and I had to stay there with him until people came by to get me out of the hole," Barrier said.

He said the living conditions were dreadful, and on top of that, it the most brutal winter of the century.

"It was bad. It was cold. It was the coldest winter they had in 100 years."

Plus, he said they under constant fire from the ruthless German soldiers.

"The Germans were ruthless, they were terrible. There was a sniper in a building behind us that had gotten behind us and he was shooting at me and the shells were just going all around me."

He said he specifically remembers one instance when he was chosen to swim across the Saar River between Belgium and Germany to blow up a German pillbox. "There was a German pillbox across the river. They were firing point blank at the soldiers." He said all he set out with was a helmet for protection and a package full of dynamite. "I was to deliver it in front of the pillboxes and to blow it up so the rest of us could come across without being shot at. I managed to go on up to the pillbox and place the explosive charge...and we got back and blew it up," he said.

Out of all the close calls, he said being blasted by a bombshell was by far the closest.

"The shell landed where I was and I got blown up to the back of the wall. It was a miracle I did not get hurt. I guess I had a lot of prayers."

He said the main thing that kept him going and what motivated him to keep fighting was daily letters from his mother and grandmother.

"The experiences, I wouldn't take anything for. But I wouldn't do it again for anything," he said.

Despite all of the brutal things he saw and experienced there, he said one of the most rewarding was rescuing Jewish prisoners from their concentration camps.

"Their eyes were sunk back into their head, they were skinny, just skin and bones and we got to feed them and they just couldn't thank us enough, what we had done for them," said Barrier.

When asked how it feels to be a part of the greatest generation and a hometown hero, Barrier answered, "Am I a hero? I was just there, I'm not a hero."

Nevertheless, to his wife and daughter, a hero is exactly what he is.

"I'm just taken aback by the fact that he was there," said his daughter Beverly. "You see it all on TV and my dad was there and it just blows me away," she said.

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