STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. –
Recently, Naval Oceanography had one of its own, Aerographer’s Mate Petty Officer 2nd Class (AG2) Corniche King, accepted into the Seaman to Admiral-21 Program (STA-21) that offers qualified enlisted Sailors the ability to move into officer ranks in the U.S. Navy, December 10, 2021.
Since the 1960s, then Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Boorda reestablished the program as the admiral believed, "people should have the opportunity to excel, and be all they can be, even if they don't get a perfect or traditional start."
STA-21 has been a commissioning program in which participants maintain the pay, benefits, and privileges they enjoy as active duty Sailors and receive a scholarship to attend a top-notch university. The program allows young Sailors to earn their commission while still being paid and to become naval officers upon graduation.
Naval Oceanography conducted an interview with AG2 King to highlight his past and what brought him to this moment in his journey as he becomes an officer in the U.S. Navy.
Tell us a little bit about your family background and life before the Navy? Did those experiences shape who you are today?
I love to think my family background is typical. I have a loving, supportive, and thoughtful family who supports me in everything I do.
My life in high school was nothing like my life now academically. In high school, my focus was on everything other than school. I was learning to navigate through the city of Chicago in every facet you can imagine, but I did find time to have fun. My hobbies in high school are what shaped me. I did a lot of volunteering, reading, and sports. I have always been more focused on my community and what I could do to make it better and make the people around the community better.
What made you want to join the Navy? What motivated you to enlist?
Coming from an environment where I was the provider for my family at a young age, I often put schoolwork on the back burner due to my responsibilities. As a result, I had poor academic performance in my first year of college. I realized that I needed to make changes in my life; therefore, I decided to take a leap of faith and joined the Navy.
This proved to be one of the best decisions I've made in my life. My motivation has always been to make my family proud and build a legacy.
In your own words, what does ‘service to one’s country’ mean to you?
To serve one's country can come in many ways, but I feel my service to the country comes down to being truly authentic to who I am at my core.
I always remember to give my best, even on days I do not feel my best and make the necessary sacrifices for the more significant benefit of the many, rather than doing something that benefits a small group. Most importantly, surround oneself with people who want a common goal of making everything better because it's the standard and we are not to look for confirmation or praise.
Do you have any family members who served or are serving in the military?
I have one living grandfather who served as a Boatswain mate, and the other was a Drafts Man, a few uncles who were in the Marines. The older generation in my family does not talk much about their service. However, they are incredibly proud of me, and proud that I am on the path to being the first Commissioned Officer in the family.
Currently, I have cousins in the Army, Navy, and the Air Force. So there is a lot of joking going on when we all get together.
What do you enjoy most about being a Sailor as an Aerograph’s mate in the U.S. Navy?
Being an AG was a great experience. What I will miss the most is that AG is a small community. So when I made friends, I embraced them as my family. AG1 Patton is the Godfather to my son, as I am his sons as well, I was the best man for the Melton's who are great members of my family, newly converted NC1 Hannah is basically my brother, I speak with him every day, and AG1 Hutchinson, whom my wife and I call our son, even though he's older than us.
Being a Sailor is more fulfilling for me. Finding mentors outside of my community has been a blessing for me and my career. ET1 Nelson has taken me under his "wing" and makes sure I keep a steady pace to avoid burning out. ITC Franklin has a similar background and will tell me what I need to hear at all times and how to be tactful. Being outside of the AG community and being seen as a Sailor first, has allowed me to expand my knowledge of other communities and learn how to meet their standard and properly manage expectations.
What made you apply for the STA-21 program to become a naval officer?
I pursued being an officer to apply effective changes and liaison with all parties involved. Learning the "how-to" in leadership will give me the proper tools to be a better leader. Also, I hope to inspire other "AG2 King's" in the fleet.
I have been fortunate enough to have mentors who saw something in me that I did not see in myself, and I want to pay that forward.
What does 10 years down the road look like?
Ten years from now, I'll have a teenager. So, my wife and I will be navigating a new wave of emotions in our household. Family is essential to me, which matters the most in my decision-making inside and outside of uniform.
However, ten years from now, while serving, I expect to have gained knowledge from being a Divisional Officer and moving into my Department Head tour or second Department Head tour. I hope to have positively affected many lives by improving naval readiness, teaching the new generation of Sailor, and most importantly, learning from them. I hope to continue to evolve as the world and navy change. In that case, I will have added to someone's legacy and started a legacy of my own.
Anything else you want to add?
I would like to thank my mentors Mike Staten, Senior New, AGC Bizzle, AGCS Loythan, AGC Mendoza, AGC Medina, AGC Eckman, AG1 McGee, and many more. Their guidance, knowledge, and a lot of what I have achieved in the Navy would have been more difficult for me to follow on my own.
U.S. Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command directs and oversees more than 2,500 globally-distributed military and civilian personnel who collect, process and exploit environmental information to assist Fleet and Joint Commanders in all warfare areas to make better decisions, based on assured environmental information, faster than the adversary.