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    Ford’s Handler Paves the Way for Legacies to Continue


    Photo By Seaman Riley McDowell | Cmdr. Rodney King, USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) handler, announces flight deck...... read more read more



    Story by Lt.j.g. Ayifa Brooks 

    USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)

    Ford’s Handler Paves the Way for Legacies to Continue
    By Lt. Ayifa Brooks, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Public Affairs

    NORFOLK, Va. – On the seventh day he rested. An aircraft carrier’s aircraft handling officer’s (ACHO) control of the hangar bay and flight deck is like the hand of a “bird master” choosing which birds fly and which ones don’t. Lt. Cmdr. Rodney M. King Sr., from Elkin, North Carolina, Ford’s ACHO is the youngest child of four, and a first generation military service member.

    King joined the Navy as an undesignated airman, making chief petty officer in 2002. He was selected for the Limited Duty Officer (LDO) program in 2007 which allowed him to work his way to his current position. He now leads Ford’s air department from his very own throne, Flight Deck Control, with 30 plus years of service under his belt.

    An ACHO is in charge of the movement of all aircraft onboard. The ACHO also coordinates all maintenance for aircraft and elevator runs to ensure flight operations are safe and efficient.

    “Earlier in my career having an opportunity when I first joined the Navy was the biggest challenge,” said King. “There wasn’t a lot of mentorship for African Americans on how to better yourself and excel in the Navy.”
    As one of the first ACHOs on Ford, King has ensured the success of many “Ford firsts,” to include aircraft compatibility testing in January 2020, flight deck certification in March 2020, and first operations with an embarked carrier air wing of 35 aircraft in May 2020. In a short amount of time King marked a historic sequence of events during his time onboard.

    “The Navy has come a long way, however there is always room for improvement,” said King. “We still have yet to have an African American master chief petty officer of the Navy (MCPON) so we still have a ways to go.”
    Two of King’s mentors are retired Navy Capt. R.D Jones, who convinced him to apply for the LDO program, and Cmdr. Tommy Edgeworth, whom King did previous tours with. They are both African-American LDOs and have helped him get where he is today.
    The work that King has done is still just the beginning for some to follow, but the path he paved is another milestone for African Americans to know they can start from the bottom and work their way to the top. He’s reached for many goals, accomplished many more and for that reason he leaves a legacy behind for future generations to be proud of.

    “30 years vice 20 years is huge, it’s a difference in whether you want to work or have to work,” said King. “Getting my kids through college was also another reason why I decided to serve past 20 years”.
    The legacy of African Americans’ contributions to the Navy is still developing. Individuals such as retired Rear Adm. Lawrence Chambers, the first African American to command an aircraft carrier, Ens. Jesse L. Brown, first African-American naval aviator, and Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle, the Navy’s first African-American female tactical aircraft pilot who qualified and received her wings onboard Ford last year while King was serving as ACHO. They, just like King, have made history through their greatest accomplishments in the Navy.
    “Nothing is given to you easy,” said King. “You still have to go get it, but there’s definitely a lot more avenues for you to progress and get promoted in the Navy than [there were] 30 years ago.”
    For more news from USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), visit



    Date Taken: 02.20.2021
    Date Posted: 02.22.2021 07:32
    Story ID: 389503
    Location: NORFOLK, VA, US 

    Web Views: 177
    Downloads: 0