WWII veteran who served under Gen. Patton celebrates 100th birthday in KCK

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A KCK man is celebrating a major milestone.

Walter DePriest is turning 100 years old this month. He was born in Mississippi on March 28th, 1919.

As a young man, he served in the U.S. Army during World War II, where he was stationed in France. DePriest was assigned to the Red Ball Express under Gen. George S. Patton.

Walter DePriest

The Red Ball Express was a truck convoy that delivered supplies to Allied forces. The convoy was made up of mostly African-American soldiers drawn from the Quartermaster Corps. The 700-mile route was marked with red balls so the troops wouldn’t get lost.

After his service, DePriest originally intended to settle in St. Louis but decided to make a trip to Kansas City to visit relatives in 1947. That’s when he landed a job in the stockyards.

“I never left,” he said to a chuckling crowd of friends and family members at his birthday party Thursday.

Walter has nine children and helped to raise six of his grandchildren. Reflecting on his life, he said he’s been very fortunate.

“I’ve had a good life. Some of it was bad and some of it was good, but I had a good life.”

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