NORFOLK (NNS) -- When Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Ellis King retired at the Carl Brashear Chief Petty Officer Club, May 16, his family gathered not only to honor his 26 years of faithful service, but to celebrate the family's military history as well.
At any given time within the last decade, less than one half of one percent of all Americans have served in the armed forces. For the King family, the call to serve was strong for seven siblings.
"I never expected my children to serve," said James King, Senior Chief King's father. "But then, one after another, I watched them join."
Shortly after Senior Chief King joined the Navy in 1988, he was stationed in the Persian Gulf along with three of his brothers. This rare event was covered in a CNN report, with Senior Chief King conducting a phone interview and his family at home providing information for the story.
"This was before everyone had the internet and social media," said Senior Chief King. "I was just amazed that CNN wanted to do a story on us."
Many of Senior Chief King's family members continue to serve today; most of whom participated in his retirement ceremony. His twin sister, retired U.S. Army Maj. Ellie Vance, served as the presiding officer for the event; his older brother Willie King, an ordained minister and six year Navy veteran, conducted the invocation and benediction. The rest of his family, who have served or are still serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, performed the Flag Ceremony.
"I come from a large family," said Senior Chief King. "But when I put on this uniform, you are all my family - my brothers and sisters in arms."
A common notion shared among the members of the King family was that each sibling who has served has returned home safely. The family repeatedly expressed their appreciation for this and took the time to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
"Of all my children that have served, all have made it home," said James King. "I could not ask for anything more. I'm so proud of them and all the men and women serving in the military."
On the eve of Armed Forces Day, this family's celebration is one that exemplifies the meaning of service.
"I'm so glad my family can be with me today," said King. "Everything I did, I did for them and to make them proud. I don't feel lucky, I feel truly blessed."
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