Editor's note: This is the first in a series of stories about area natives who are currently serving in the armed forces.
According to her mother, Lea King knew she wanted to be in the armed forces since she was 7.
"When she was 7, we took her to an air show," said Michele King, Lea's mother. "When she saw the airplanes, she started saying, 'Army, Army, Army.' As she got older, she (started) looking into all the military branches, and she decided on the Air Force - but she knew she wanted to serve ever since she was 7."
King, a 2010 graduate of Chautauqua Lake High School, is currently serving as an airman first class at Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, Mo.
King entered basic training in January 2011 and graduated in March. She then attended technical training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas for Aircraft Armament before being moved to Whiteman.
As a trade, King loads and unloads bombs onto B-2 Stealth Bombers. Because of how important it is for King to be a master of her trade, she is often running practice drills when there are no B-2 Bombers which need to be equipped with bombs.
"She's very busy running practice drills," said Michele King.
"She loads and unloads practice bombs quite a bit. Her base is a highly classified base, due to the nature of the B-2 Stealth Bomber, so she's not allowed to share a lot of details with me, but she'll often tell me how many practice drills they had her run every day."
Though there is an Air Force base in Niagara Falls, Whiteman base is the only Air Force Base which deals with B-2 Bombers, which is what King is trained in, so she won't be moving closer to home anytime soon.
Even though King gets homesick at times, she loves what she is doing, and is proud to have the position she has.
"I can tell what days she's feeling homesick, because she'll call me up and just talk about nothing for (a long time)," said Michele King. "Then I can tell when she's busy, because I'll only get one quick call or one text on those days. No matter what, though, I always hear from her once a day. She's just a really good, thoughtful daughter like that."
In the future, Michele King said her daughter might consider receiving training in a field which would allow her to move closer to home; however, at this point, she's simply happy to be serving in the armed forces.
And because she's so eager to serve, her parents are extraordinarily proud of her.
"I'm proud of her just for doing what she's doing," said Michele King.
"It takes a very special person to do what she's doing, and I know personally, I could never do it. My husband and I are just so proud of her that she's chose to do this. She has pretty much just gone with the flow, and done what has been asked of her. It's a very noble thing to do, and we love her for it."