JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri Army National Guard Maj. Barb King is the epitome of what it means to be a well-rounded individual.
King is the president for the Missouri National Guard Association. She is a life member of the National Guard Association of the United States, as well as several other organizations. She is a former concert musician, active in martial arts, and sponsors a little girl in Africa. She is a blogger and a fundraiser. She was recently selected for Who’s Who Worldwide. And, she is an officer in the Missouri National Guard.
“Bottom line: she’s an incredible officer,” said Col. William Ward, brigade commander for the 110th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. “She has great drive. She was our battle captain in our tactical operations center during numerous events. Her enthusiasm and ability to get things done have made her successful and will continue to do so.”
Recently, King was transferred from her traditional position at the 110th to her current role at the Ike Skelton Training Site in Jefferson City as the facilities budget officer.
In this capacity, King supervises financial programs for the facilities division and is the principal adviser to the Construction and Facilities Management Office regarding resource management and budget items.
Supervising the financials for the Missouri National Guard is a hefty responsibility, but responsibility is something King says she took on at an early age.
“My parents split when I was pretty young,” King said. “So, I had to take a leadership role in the family very early. I wasn’t even in high school yet. I am the oldest of three, and with Mom working, I tried to help support the four of us.”
King contributes her leadership and drive to be an officer and planner to that experience.
“There was some satisfaction in putting a plan together, and seeing that come to fruition,” said King. “Something as simple as getting home from school, getting my sisters from the sitter, and making them dinner was my plan. I made that happen. From early on, there was a sense of pride in knowing I could set my mind to something and accomplish that.”
With as much as King has accomplished, she still has her aspirations. A National Guard Bureau tour, a battalion commander position and the role as construction and facilities management officer make up just a part of her military bucket list.
But her Guard ambitions make up only a fraction of who King is. She is also a philanthropist.
While driving one day, King heard an advertisement on the radio imploring listeners to sponsor children in Africa. The ad tugged at her heartstrings, she said. After doing the research, the coffee-drinker jokes how she decided to cut the expensive cafés from her diet so she could sponsor the child.
King went to the computer. She visited the Compassion International website. She requested a girl with a birthday in August so the two could relate to each other. King is now the sponsor of 9-year-old Dovi, who lives in Togo, Africa.
Until last year, the two only communicated through letters. But, King finally got to meet Dovi at a Compassion International tour last year.
“It was incredibly awesome, yet incredibly sad,” King said. “Her house was a metal building the size of an office - dirt floors. But, it was amazing because I got to meet both of her parents and her brothers and sister.”
On the trip, King got to see how Dovi and other kids in the program are taught life skills including how to grow food, proper hygiene and how to obtain jobs so they can be self-sufficient. But King was most excited to sing songs and play instruments with Dovi and the other children.
Playing instruments is something King has had a passion for since 1979. After a string quartet came to her grade school, she was hooked and quickly learned to play the viola.
“I loved the sound,” said King. “I loved the music it made. I played all through grade school, all through high school. I got to play solos with our orchestra. And, I got to play professionally in college.”
But, making a living by playing music can be difficult. Although passionate about music, it was tough to pay for her music education degree. King knew she needed to do something to help her afford her love for music.
“After I decided I was out of money, I joined the Illinois Army National Guard,” King said. “My intentions were to go to the school in the summer. But, I had to have emergency surgery two weeks before basic training.”
King missed the enrollment date for her school. Still financially stressed, the college-age King needed a job. She found a job full-time with the Illinois National Guard. For five years, King stayed with the Illinois Guard. In 1997, she moved and transferred to the Missouri National Guard’s 203rd Engineer Battalion. Five years later, she commissioned as an officer.
Right out of her Engineer Officer Basic Course, she deployed. There, she would learn the most valuable lesson yet.
“A lot of people hate the word ‘deployment,’” King said. “There are so many negative connotations around deployments. But, watching how a group of strangers from communities across the nation and other countries, and seeing how they come together for a common cause, was amazing.”
The soldiers she worked with taught her what kind of an officer she would be. Whether it is music, martial arts, philanthropic organizations or military facilities management, King says she would rather know a little about 100 different things than know a lot about one thing.
“We learn from peers. We learn from our mentors,” said King. “But I learned more about life in general from the people I supervised – where they came from, what makes them tick, what’s their passion. It amazed me who I had out there. We have some fascinating people in the Guard.”
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