What constitutes patriotism? What constitutes pride? What constitutes loyalty? For Chief Utilitiesman Charlie King, a Seabee assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11, the answer to those questions can be traced back many generations.
Chief King comes from a long line of proud servicemen and women. In fact, of his twelve siblings, seven have served or are currently serving today, covering all four branches of the military. With the addition of some uncles and cousins, Chief King needs more than two hands to count the number of family members who have dedicated their lives in the service of the United States.
When asked where he gets his inspiration from, Chief King stated that, “Many people have inspired me in my life and time in the Navy. My dad and my brother Ellis are the number one inspirations in my life though. My dad instilled a work ethic in me like no other. To this day I am still competitive with myself to be better than average with anything I do, and I get that mostly from him.”
However, Chief King didn’t always know that he wanted to join the military. It wasn’t until he saw a news report that featured his brothers serving in the Navy during Operation Desert Storm that got the gears spinning.
“I was happy to see what my brothers had accomplished in the Navy,” said King. “They all made the CNN news for their involvement in Desert Storm and I was proud to see them and hear all the members of my city talk about how proud they were of my families’ accomplishment. It drove me to want to follow in their steps and make something more out of myself.”
After seeing the news report, he was hooked. By the time he entered the tenth grade, Chief King had set his mind to enlisting in the military.
“The Navy seemed like a great option,” said King. “When I got older, l told my homeroom teacher, Mrs. Copeland, my goal was to join. I did have second guesses about joining at first, but then she heard there was a Navy recruiter in the lobby [of my school] and marched me right to him. I guess I have her to thank for solidifying my decision to go Navy vice the other branches, or even holding a local hometown job.”
In July of 1999 Chief King headed off to boot camp and afterwards to “A” school. From there, he reported to his first duty station, Naval Construction Battalion Unit (CBU) 405 in San Diego, California.
“The special thing about that duty station was that my brother Ellis was stationed there as well,” noted King. “He made Chief while I was there, and I was able to attend his ceremony. He was also there for me when I made Third and Second Class Petty Officer; he was the one who pinned my crows and placed my cover.”
From San Diego, Chief King went on to serve at Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133, Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202, Public Works Department (PWD) Bahrain, NMCB 11, Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering (CSFE) detachment Sheppard Air Force Base, and finally back to NMCB 11, where he is currently stationed today.
While Chief King’s career spans nearly nineteen years, he says it hasn’t always been easy.
”For the longest time my attitude was if you can’t do it, get out of the way and I’ll show you how it’s done, and [I] would do the majority of the work myself,” said King. “I definitely had a lack of understanding of what true leadership was, and how to empower my subordinates.”
It wasn’t until he met Command Master Chief Chris Beck and Senior Chief Utilitiesman Scott Kristek that he finally began to understand what it meant to be a leader. Chief King credits both Chiefs for developing and mentoring him into the person he has become today.
”I was always a hard worker, but I never really understood the aspect of the Navy as far as being the ‘well rounded’ Sailor,” noted King. “I grew up thinking all you had to do was outwork the next person to advance, but there is so much more involved than that. Attitude, integrity, and leadership were areas I was weak in, and they helped me more than anyone else I had met in the Navy. I modeled myself after them and added my own twist, and that is what helped me shape into the Sailor I am today.”
Through their mentorship and guidance, Chief King was able to steer his career to new heights. In September of 2017, Chief King (at the time a First Class Petty Officer), was selected for and promoted to Chief Petty Officer.
“Over the years and throughout many different commands, I had to understand that everyone didn’t grow up like me or didn’t have the type of training I had. I overcame this challenge by reaching out more to my leadership and listening to what my junior troops had to say,” said King. “Over time, I took my training and tried to instill what I had learned into my junior troops. With a lot of patience, I was able to see results with most of them. I do my very best to still apply those principles to whatever situation I’m placed in today.”
Looking ahead Chief King, who once had a goal of making Master Chief, has opened his aperture. While continuing to mentor his junior troops, personally and professionally, he is also developing plans for his retirement.
“My main goal is to complete my service honorably and look into completing my degree in business administration,” said King. “I would also like to work with my wife, helping her open up a child care center and be part time involved in her business.”
Homeported in Gulfport, Mississippi, NMCB 11 is part of the Naval Construction Force (NCF). The NCF is a vital component of the U.S. Maritime Strategy and is comprised of deployable battalions capable of providing contingency construction, disaster preparation and recovery support, humanitarian assistance, and combat operations support.