04/01/10 — King new chairman of military advisory board

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King new chairman of military advisory board

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on April 1, 2010 1:46 PM

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Goldsboro Mayor Al King, left, who was recently appointed chairman of the N.C. Advisory Commission on Military Affairs by Gov. Beverly Perdue, talks with Goldsboro businessman Henry Smith before presiding over his first meeting in Raleigh. King was assigned to the post after longtime Seymour Johnson Air Force Base advocate Troy Pate Jr. submitted his resignation.

RALEIGH -- Those who know Al King were not surprised when the Goldsboro mayor revealed that he was going to open his first session as chairman of the North Carolina Advisory Commission on Military Affairs with a story.

So they smiled as he carried on in front of a group of decorated military officers from -- and staunch advocates for -- each of the state's installations, laughing when he said he was only going to take a minute, that he would soon "back off."

They knew this tale of a man's love and appreciation for the Air Force base that calls his town home would be anything but short and sweet.

But what they didn't know was his reasoning for telling them about the teamwork displayed by Seymour Johnson's 4th Fighter Wing and 916th Air Refueling Wing during the flyover of former President Gerald Ford's funeral -- that the dedication and sacrifice put on display by those airmen that day inspired him to accept a position he was reluctant to even talk about when Gov. Beverly Perdue first asked him to replace fellow Wayne County resident and former chairman Troy Pate Jr.

"As you can see, I'm proud of the military units that surround me, and I know that those of you who live in other military communities feel passionately about your units as well," he said. "That's why you're here. That's exactly why you're here. I know because that's why I'm here. I'm on their side because I know that they are on mine."

Members of the NCACMA met on the North Carolina State University campus Wednesday to welcome their new chairman and continue the work started some 30 years ago, when then-Gov. Jim Hunt formed the group.

Established to lead the effort to support and sustain the military across the state by advising both the governor and secretary of commerce on how to best protect existing infrastructure and to promote new military missions and economic opportunities for N.C., the NCACMA is heavily involved in the Base Realignment and Closure Commission process, but until 2001, was only convened by executive order.

The commission consists of 21 members appointed by the governor, the president pro tem of the Senate and the speaker of the House, and several ex officio members, including the commanding officer of each of the installations in the state.

4th Mission Support Group Commander Col. William Thomas was among those present for King's first meeting as chairman, but, for the most part, passed on describing Seymour Johnson's role at home and in theater.

The mayor of the town that calls the base home, had, after all, already covered it.

"These war heroes are in the air in combat conditions as we speak," King said. "They do that routinely whenever they are needed. And they do it better than anybody."