Lieutenant Antony King was killed on 22nd March 2003 when two Mk 7 Sea King Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASAC) helicopters collided over international waters in the Gulf. The helicopters were from 849 Squadron A Flight, which is based at the Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, in Cornwall. The crash was not the result of enemy action and tragically there were no survivors.
Tony, who joined the Royal Navy in 1987 at the age of 19, had recently been selected for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. A committed family man, he lived with his wife Sarah and children David (5) and Molly (4) in their home in Helston. Tony valued his family and close friends above all else and his loss to them all has been devastating.
Tony and Sarah's families live in North Somerset where they both grew up. Following training as a Sea King Observer Tony was awarded his wings in 1990. In 1991 Tony served in HMS Ark Royal during the last Gulf War and was awarded the Gulf War Medal. Upon his return he joined the 849 Squadron HQ staff at Culdrose and in 1994 he married Sarah at their parish church in Somerset. In 1996 Tony deployed to the Adriatic and was again awarded a campaign medal for his service.
His son David was born in 1997 followed by the birth of Molly in 1999. Although the family have made several moves to further Tony's career they have always regarded Helston as home. They purchased their dream house in 2001 and, with the help of his best friend, Tony took up the art of DIY. The family are closely connected with St Michael's Church Primary School where Sarah was a teacher (now a governor) and their son David is a pupil.
Tony's family described him as a "larger than life" character with a "tremendous presence". He had a passion for rugby and as a young man had captained the Yatton Colts. In more recent years he has played for Stithians. Popular with his squadron Tony's colleagues were delighted by the news of his forthcoming promotion and considered it well deserved.
Tony has left all who his life touched with affectionate and happy memories. Sarah summed him up by saying, "Tony made people laugh".
Lieutenant King was awarded a posthumous Mention in Despatches in the Operational Honours published on 31 October 2003, in recognition of the vital work that he had carried out prior to his death in bringing into service a new electronic system that allowed tactically vital radar data to be fed quickly and accurately to the Land Commander.