Kim to retire after 35 years
China Laker at Pentagon when plane hit on 9-11
By Matthew Denny
NAWCWD Public Affairs
Young Kim, a mechanical engineer with the Joint Standoff Weapon Technical Project Office at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, will retire Oct. 3 after a 35-year career of government service.
Kim emigrated from Korea to the United States in 1974 with his family, then served as a tank crewman in the U.S. Army until 1978.
“I saw it as a great way to gain the skills I needed to start my life,” he said. “Joining the Army was one of the best things I have ever done.”
Kim will hold the year 1976 dear, as it was the year he became naturalized as a U.S. citizen. He said it was very special to him that he became an American in the year of the United States bicentennial.
He graduated from the Univer-sity of Washington, Seattle, in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in mech-anical engineering, then reported to the then-Naval Weapons Center that September.
During his career here, he worked on various weapon systems including Sidewinder, the Rolling Airframe Missile and JSOW for 31-plus years as an engineer or branch head.
In December 1986 he married the love of his life, Kyoung Kim. Since then they have raised a son, Kevin, and a daughter, Rachel.
From 1996-2001, he served as head of the Weapons Development and Integration Branch, where he provided technical and program consultations on various advanced weapon development and production programs. He managed and coordinated development of the LAU-7 In-flight Data Acquisition Pod for the Sidewinder AIM-9X development program.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Kim walked into the Pentagon for an interview with the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations for the position of science and technology advisor.
“I came into the Pentagon and I heard that a pilot had crashed into a New York City building,” Young said. “We did not know at the time that it was a terrorist attack; we thought it was just an accident. Then I went up to the fourth floor, in the D ring, which is the second closet ring to the outside. When I got up there, everyone was around the TV and President Bush was confirming that it was a terrorist attack.”
Kim joined the gathered people to watch more about what was happening in New York.
“During the president’s conference, I suddenly heard a [devastatingly loud boom] and saw big balls of fire about 15 to 20 yards away from me outside the window,” he said.
“We immediately knew that it was something related to the World Trade Center attack. In my mind I was thinking, was it a bomb or was it another airplane.
“We escaped and as soon as I was out of the building, I could smell the jet fuel and knew immediately that the Pentagon had been hit by an aircraft. The plane crashed into the third floor, directly below me. I was right next to the death.
“The airplane that came in hit the ground first, which slowed it down, then it crashed into the side of the Pentagon; if it would have gone directly into the side, without hitting the ground first, I would not be here talking to you right now and I would have been killed instantly.”
The interview was cancelled but later in September Kim accepted the job. His duties included serving the Strike Aircraft Plans and Requirements officers with technically sound advice, monitoring and assessing the health of Time Critical Strike and Future Naval Capability programs and making technical/funding recommendations to Navy leadership. He received a letter of commendation in 2002 for a job well done.
Since 2005 he has been working as the lead JSOW TPO aircraft integration engineer.
“For the last seven years, Young has brought a dedication to the JSOW program that is rarely seen in an employee,” said Daniel Warren, JSOW TPO director. “He has [led] a number of efforts to get capabilities to the fleet. He will be greatly missed.
“Personally, Young is an extremely pleasant person to work with. He has always been willing to go the extra mile to ensure that the product gets tested completely. I wish him luck in his future endeavors.”
Kim plans to spend a lot of his free time golfing and watching his children experience life.
“I consider myself very lucky to be a part of this team,” said Kim. “In my opinion China Lake is the best place to work, and I have no regrets.”Story First Published: 2013-10-01