Two from Goldsboro to help president begin second term
By Sam Atkins
Published in News on December 12, 2004 2:04 AM
Hundreds of military personnel will travel to Washington, D.C., in January for President Bush's inauguration, and two Goldsboro natives will help make sure the 10-day event runs smoothly.
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Michael King is based at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington. He was selected out of hundreds of airmen who submitted applications to represent the Air Force on the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee. The committee has 400 people on staff from all military branches.
And another Goldsboro native, U.S. Marine Master Sgt. Decarlous Reid, is the senior enlisted adviser currently stationed at the committee's operations center, which is the "heartbeat" of the event, he said. All of the information about the ceremony comes through the center, and Reid's job is to make sure the information goes to the appropriate officer in charge.
The Air Force sent out a volunteer list for the inauguration committee, and those interested sent in their names and records. The group was narrowed down to 10 airmen from the entire Air Force, and King was notified in 2003 of his selection.
"It is a great opportunity," he said.
King has been involved in Air Force personnel work for 20 years. He entered the military after graduating from Eastern Wayne High School.
He said his role on the committee is unlike any another assignment, and he is looking forward to being a part of it.
"I thrive on challenges, and I want to be a part of history."
King is in charge of a five-member team from different branches of service. The committee's building is a couple of blocks from the Capitol Building. Upon arrival, King and his team will help guide the personnel to the building and give them instructions on where they need to go during the event, what time they need to be there and help with any personal matters.
Many of those arriving will be participating in the parade, and King will make sure they receive the proper military decoration or certificate of participation. The team will provide an outlet for sending information back to their hometowns and will notify their families if anything happens while they are there.
The team will also help coordinate security for the event. King said since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, security has changed, and their role will be more defined.
Reid's reluctance ends
There are 12 people in the center, from all branches of service. Reid's duty outside of the committee is to ensure that the Marine's fighting on the grounds overseas are getting all the things they need.
He is familiar with Washington, D.C., having been part of the ceremonial drill selection team in the early 1980s. While stationed at Camp Lejeune, he was selected to return to the nation's capital as a military policeman guarding the Naval Command Operations Center.
He said that when he was initially approached about being on the inauguration committee, he wasn't thrilled because he felt like his main priority was helping his fellow Marines who are fighting. However, after seeing the committee that had been assembled, he was excited.
"I am truly honored to be affiliated with such a prestigious organization."
The last inauguration parade had around 5,000 military participants, and a similar number is expected this year. The inauguration begins Jan. 15 with an opening ceremony, which is followed five days later with the swearing-in ceremony. There are different balls and galas throughout, and the committee will also provide help for those. The entire event ends Jan. 24.
The committee was established in the 1950s as a temporary task force composed of soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen to render military honors to the president during the event.
The committee is performing exercises and rehearsals to make sure everything goes as planned.
King's mother found out that he was selected to be on the committee about two months ago. Coincidentally, his mother's name is Laura Bush.
"I am happy to know that he has come this far and is recognized as someone who can do the job," Ms. Bush said. "I'm also ecstatic that he is this close to home."
Reid's mother, Dorothy, said she speaks to her son quite often and is also proud of his participation in the historic event.
"The whole family is excited."
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