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2003 Change of Command

When I received orders as the Commanding Officer of Marine Safety Office Huntington, WV I was absolutely thrilled.  Although Huntington wasn't my first choice, turning down a command would have been impossible.  If I hadn't gotten a command, I probably would have stayed at Headquarters for two more years and then retired.  With the exception of the commute, it wasn't all that bad at CGHQ and I wasn't about to leave for less than a CO job.

I took over on July 29, 2003 in a ceremony at Harris Riverfront Park near downtown Huntington.  The District Commander, Rear Admiral Robert Duncan presided over the event.  Below is a gallery of photos taken that day.
I was told that my speech should be under three minutes.  Here is my speech as delivered:

When I reported to OCS just about 20 years ago to the day, I would have probably told anyone who projected that I would be here today taking over a great unit like MSO Huntington that they were crazy.  I guess my being here today just goes to show that if you have a vision and continually work towards it, crazy things can happen.   It is certainly a honor and a privilege to be here today.

It's an honor to relieve such a distinguished colleague as Lincoln Stroh.  He is known far and wide for his initiative, innovation and leadership.  He’s is going to be a tough act to follow.  Of course, as I take command, I can be assured that I inherit a unit that is in tip-top condition.  As Lincoln moves on to the Brookings Institute, I certainly wish him and his family all the best.

It is also a privilege to be assigned to work with such a great group of people.  As RADM Pluta would continually remind all of us, it’s people that come first.  I can buy all the fancy equipment in the world, but without great people like we have here, it all means nothing.  People will always be my number one priority.  Remember, I am here to serve you, not the opposite.  If I lose sight of this, please tell me.  If you feel uncomfortable about it, just let my wife Chandra know; she has no trouble straightening me out when necessary.  I try not to take myself too seriously, but I assure everyone that while I may like to joke around, I am dead serious when it comes to marine safety and security. 

I want to thank the XO, LCDR Steve Wischmann and LT Dave Sandhal (any others?) For putting together this ceremony.  It looks easy, but having done this a couple of times myself, the fact that they make it appear seamless just tells me how hard they worked preparing for this day.    

Finally, I want to thank my family for sticking with me.  I know that moving every couple of years hasn’t been easy on Chandra and gets continually more difficult as my son Daniel and daughter Adrianna as they get older.  Leaving friends behind is never easy, but we have already met a lot of great people that we will add to our long list of new friends. 

I look forward to working with everyone here as we move towards the mutual goal of a safe and secure marine environment. 

Thank you.

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