By Stephanie J. SantosMay 30, 2008
Each time a plane ascends from or descends to Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield and tons military of equipment are successfully transported via rail or sea, it's more than just clockwork. This is the work of Eric King, installation transportation officer, who has been responsible for redeploying and deploying more than 60,000 Fort Drum Soldiers since he took on the position three years ago.
He was honored for his outstanding business leadership and positive impact on the community at the 2008 Watertown Jaycees Young Professional Awards on Thursday at the Best Western Carriage House Restaurant in Watertown.
King, along with three other local achievers, was recognized by the Jaycees, a nationally recognized organization for young professionals 18 to 39. Their goal is to provide professional development and networking opportunities for these young individuals. Jaycee members also are known for their involvement within the community.
Brian Sterner, chief of plans and operations for the Directorate of Logistics, nominated King for the business award based on his "superior leadership."
"King is not only a leader, but a positive leader. He always excels under pressure," Sterner said. "He also trains and mentors young interns and is very much involved in the community. Without a doubt, he is truly deserving of this recognition."
King graciously accepted the award and described it as a surprise and an honor. He defined his role as the ITO as something that has given him an indescribable sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
"I am blessed to be with one of the best teams on Fort Drum. They are the ones I call in the middle of the night, weekends and holidays to react to unexpected transportation events. They never complain, and they never question," he said.
"It's not easy to deploy these troops and watch them say goodbye to their loved ones, but we gladly accept this job because we know we can do it better than anyone else."
In addition to handling all of the installation's transportation needs, King is also a member of American Legion Post 1757 and the Sackets Harbor Arbor Day Committee.
Ironically, King, who was stationed at Fort Drum from 1992 to 1996, said he had no intention of returning to the North Country after he completed his first and only active-duty assignment. After leaving the service, he went on to finish law school in Washington, D.C., and planned to enjoy life in the big city.
However, he said he missed the small-town atmosphere of the North Country.
"There's a sense of caring here that you just can't find in the big cities," he said. "I also missed working with the Soldiers and their Families."
King returned to Fort Drum as a transportation clerk. Within six years, he earned the position of ITO, managing a staff of more than 40 employees. He explained that whether he is working with freight trains, trucks or airfield support, he makes certain to keep a positive perspective on things.
"I believe that any effective leader has to empower (his or her) employees with positive reinforcement," he said.
"If you expect the best, then you will get the best in return. My staff is hard-working, and I respect all of them. I could not do my job without them."