published Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Allen King keeps fishing from wheelchair

Gary Petty
Allen King lands another bluegill as he fishes below Chickamauga Dam. The 65-year-old relies on a wheelchair to get him to the swift waters generated by the dam.
Photo by Gary Petty
Allen King lands another bluegill as he fishes below Chickamauga Dam. The 65-year-old relies on a wheelchair to get him to the swift waters generated by the dam. Photo by Gary Petty

Fishing is one of the things Allen King likes most to do. However, it is not easy for him: He has to use a wheelchair to get to the water.

Almost every morning, King can be seen in his electric wheelchair below Chickamauga Dam, casting a line in hopes of catching some bluegill.

A few hours later, as the day starts heating up, he heads to Booker T. Washington State Park to angle for crappie.

"There is more shade up there," he said one day last week as he put another cricket on a hook.

Now 65, King served in the U.S. Army's 173rd airborne from November 1965 to October 1968. Part of that time was in Vietnam.

"I was an only child. I did not have to go, but I volunteered," King said.

During his tour he was hospitalized for four weeks after a bunker collapsed on his back. After recovery he went back to the battlefield.

In the last two years his military service has taken another toll on the warrior. He can't walk without using a walker, and he said that's because of the effects of Agent Orange. His infantry service took him through areas where it had been sprayed.

He now has to have help getting a leg brace on before reaching for his walker or getting in his wheelchair.

"My legs started giving away, and then all of a sudden they just shut down on me," King said.

He can still fish, though.

"I just like getting out of the house. It makes me feel better," he said.

Retired from TVA, he worked as a security officer at Sequoyah Nuclear Plant.

King holds his fishing rod with his fingers lightly touching the fluorescent green fishing line. He waits until he senses a strike, and then it's time to start reeling.

Usually it's not long until he's pulling another palm-size fish up and over the handrail and dropping it in his orange bucket.

"Every now and then I might eat some, but I give most of them away," he said.

He does physical therapy some days, and others are shortened because of his condition, but he fishes as much as he can.

"If I have a good day, I might stay up all day," he said.

King has been married to his wife, Doris, for 45 years and has three children. He also is active in the World's Church of the Living God.

"I was born again in 1971. I love the Lord," he said.

When asked if he had one wish, what would it be, he replied, "I have two. That people would give their life to Jesus and that I'd get my legs back."

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