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A King takes command of NROTC

Mizzou NROTC outgoing commanding offier and U.S. Navy Capt. Michael Vizcarra shakes hands with incoming CO, Capt. Kevin King, USN.

Retiring Mizzou Naval ROTC commanding officer Capt. Michael Vizcarra congratulates and welcomes new CO Capt. Kevin King at a change of command ceremony Aug. 22, 2014. Photo by MIDN Ben Pedersen, courtesy of Mizzou NROTC

Commanding a Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program is exactly how Capt. Kevin King planned to end his career with the U.S. Navy. He took over as the University of Missouri’s Naval ROTC commanding officer (CO) in August, following the retirement of Capt. Michael Vizcarra, who served as CO for the last four years.

King was commissioned into the Navy in 1988 when he graduated from Iowa State University’s NROTC program. Around that time, NASA’s space shuttle program was in its heyday. Two years, later King was designated a Naval flight officer.

“I originally joined the Navy because I wanted to be an astronaut,” King said.

His first deployments were aboard the P-3 Orion aircraft — used in maritime patrol — as a navigator and later a tactical coordinator. His crew went on missions to “hunt submarines,” a process he likened to a game of chess.

“It’s slow and methodical,” he said. “But it’s also intelligent and very strategic.

“It was still a very exciting time because the Cold War was still going,” he said. Later tours provided over-land support for troops. In total, King completed four tours in the P-3. He also has completed a tour of duty aboard the USS John C. Stennis, an aircraft carrier still in service today, and a tour as an operations officer for VP-8, a land-based maritime patrol squadron, in Brunswick, Maine. During that time, he was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Returning stateside in 2006, he was assigned a position as executive officer of the VP-26 squadron and assumed command a year later. He also has served shore and staff duty assignments as a P-3 aviation assignments officer at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, as the head of the Operational Plans Division for the combined Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet staff in Naples, Italy, and as head of the Plans and Force Management Branch of the OPNAV staff at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va.

His most recent assignment was as the head of Officer Community Management at the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Millington, Tenn. He also earned a Master of Arts in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College in 2009.

A native of Illinois, King applied for NROTC command posts in the Midwest in order to be near family and was selected to assume command of MU’s NROTC program last spring. King said he had never been to Columbia, but was looking forward to the fall when he can ride his bike to campus.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised with Columbia,” he added.