Dr. Richard King stands Wednesday in Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston where he works as a trauma surgeon. He received a direct commission to serve as a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve in April. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Dr. Richard King’s direct commission to serve as a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve in April was a dream come true.

A trauma surgeon and trauma medical director at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, King said he always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, Dr. James “Jimmie” David King, who retired from an 18-year career in the Navy Medical Corps when the younger King was just 2 years old.

Although he grew up “around the giants of medicine,” King said he was always more intrigued by the military.

“I think that stemmed from the fact that I never saw my father get any respect, really from anybody, except when we would go onto a military base.”

King has been drilling at the Navy Reserve Center in Bangor one weekend a month since May. Credentialed as a general and critical care surgeon, one of his responsibilities is to conduct health screenings.

“I really enjoyed going up there and working with sailors and you know, hearing their stories about what they’re doing,” King said. “It’s been very, very much of an eye-opener and very, very much an honor to be able to be part of their, you know, their lives now.”


He now has an opportunity to deepen his connection to his father even more.

“When I look back on my father’s service in the Navy, it was really serving the Marines,” he said.

Jimmie King served as the chief of surgery at the Yokosuka Naval Hospital during the Korean War and during the course of just a few weeks in the winter of 1950-51, the hospital received over 6,000 Marines wounded in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.

It was “probably one of the worst casualty events in Marine Corps history,” and through it all, Jimmie never left his patients’ bedsides, King said.

Cmdr. Richard King is presented with his father’s sword by his wife, Jennifer, during a ceremony April 26, 2022, at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. King’s father, who also served in the Navy, brought the sword into service 75 years ago. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal file

Come February, King begins a three-year operational billet assignment as a Navy Reserve medical officer with the 4th Medical Battalion of the U.S. Marine Corps. Instead of drilling in Bangor, he’ll drill with Marines in Orlando, Florida, or Washington, D.C.

While he’s still a member of the Navy, he’ll be a Marine for all intents and purposes when he’s with his company.

“If you looked at us from a distance, we would be thought of as being Marines,” he said. “So that’s even a great honor actually, considering what the Marines have to go through for their training,” and also that his motivation to join the Navy was the news that 13 U.S. military service members, including 11 Marines, and scores more Afghans died when a bomb exploded at the Kabul Airport in 2021.

Marines are typically the “first to fight” and if his unit is activated and deployed, he’ll serve close to the front lines as surgeon in a mobile medical unit.

“It is an honor,” King said of his upcoming assignment.

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