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Final member of the dirty dozen retires

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By Rachel Johnson, Staff Writer

Sergeant Ricky E. King entered retirement by being awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for his years of dedicated service to the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

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Sergeant King began his career with the highway patrol on September 2, 1982. He officially retired on March 1 after 28 and a half years of service.

“It is truly an honor and a privilege to be able to come together to honor Ricky,” said First Sergeant Troy Pope. “It is amazing a man can get through a career like this in the Highway Patrol without any major incidents.”

King began his career as a trooper in Camden County (1983-1986) before being transferred to Brunswick County for a partial year in 1986. He was moved back to Camden until 1988 when he was transferred to Duplin County. In 1994 King transferred to Brunswick County as a trooper. In 2009 he was promoted to line sergeant. He finished his career in Brunswick County.

Sergeant King was a part of the infamous “dirty dozen” of the 71st highway patrol basic school. The group has the reputation of being in the toughest highway patrol school. King was the last of his graduating class to retire.

“I remember Ricky when he was coming through patrol school and was a part of the dirty dozen,” said Major Tony Miller. “I see what is going on statewide and I want to thank the members of B6 for setting the standard for the highway patrol in getting impaired driver’s off the roads.”

Miller presented King a retirement certificate “in appreciation of his many years of service” signed by Governor Perdue. That wasn’t the only certificate King received signed by Perdue. King was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine during his retirement ceremony.

The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is one of the highest honors the N.C. governor can bestow on a N.C. citizen. According to the State of North Carolina Office of Governor Bev Perdue’s website the Order of the Long Leaf Pine is presented “to outstanding North Carolinians who have a proven record of service to the state. This certificate is most often presented when a person retires. A State Employee may be awarded The Order of the Long Leaf Pine if he/she has 30+ years of exemplary service to North Carolina. Others who have demonstrated a lifetime of service to the state may also qualify.”

King’s coworkers also presented him with a retirement plaque, a hunting rifle, his license plate and his last highway patrol issued identification stating he is “honorably retired.”

“I talked to Ricky on his last day,” said Lt. Neil Holmes. “I told him we were going to tell stories at his party. He said, ‘Lt. we can’t, my mom is going to be there.’”

As the floor was opened for storytelling, First Sergeant Troy Pope laughed as he said, “ I assure you he is retired.”

“Don’t forget my momma’s here,” Ricky said.

“Hey Slick” was a common greeting that meant Sergeant King was nearby. More than one of his fellow highway patrolmen shared stories of King that began with “He said, ‘Hey Slick.’”

“He took me in and fed me,” said Trooper Mark Gore. “He showed me what it was to be a member of the Highway Patrol family and what a great organization this is. I have been with the Highway Patrol for ten years now. I’d probably would have died if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here.”

“It is going to take a long time to replace Sgt. King,” Pope said. “Our organization took a step back when Ricky walked out the door. It truly has been an honor for me to work with him. He was a good line sergeant. He took care of the men in his district and things that came into his office he handled with pride and class.”

“I think I worked with the best guys on the highway patrol throughout the state,” King said as his colleagues gave him a standing ovation.