USS Iwo Jima Holds Change of Command

Story Number: NNS170919-17Release Date: 9/19/2017 2:50:00 PM
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From USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) Public Affairs Office

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) held a change of command at sea in the Atlantic Ocean, Sept. 19.

At the ceremony, Capt. Joseph R. O'Brien, of Manasquan, New Jersey, relieved Capt. James R. Midkiff, of Mount Airy, North Carolina, as the commanding officer of the Iwo Jima.

Rear Adm. Samuel Paparo, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10, oversaw the change of command, viewed by the 1,200 Sailors of Iwo Jima's crew. The ceremony celebrated Midkiff's successful leadership during his tour as commanding officer, including the completion of a chief of naval operations maintenance availability, Bold Alligator 2016, Veterans Week 2016, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in Haiti following the events of Hurricane Matthew. Command awards during his tour as commanding officer include the 2016 Battle Effectiveness Award and the 2016 Chief of Naval Operations Afloat Safety Award.

Prior to being relieved of command, Midkiff told the crew his appreciation for their efforts during his time onboard Iwo Jima.

"I have been honored to be part of this all-star team," said Midkiff. "I believe serving with you during this tour to be the pinnacle of my career. If they made me go home today, then I could do it and be satisfied."

Midkiff's next tour of duty will be as the chief of staff for U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, U.S. 6th Fleet, based at Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy.

O'Brien is the 12th commanding officer of Iwo Jima.

Prior to assuming command of Iwo Jima, Johnson previously served as the ship's executive officer for 15 months and completed sea tours with Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light (HSL) 42, USS Enterprise (CVN 65), HSL-44 and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74. O'Brien also served as the "navigator" aboard USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77). Throughout his sea tours, Johnson completed deployments to the North Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea, and the Arabian Gulf.

O'Brien's shore tours include positions at HSL-40 and the joint chiefs' staff.

O'Brien graduated with merit from the United States Naval Academy in 1993. In November 2005, he earned a Master of Arts Degree in National Security Studies from the U.S. Naval War College.

Capt. Darrell Canady, a native of Hope Mills, North Carolina, serves as Iwo Jima's executive officer.

Iwo Jima is homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Florida with a mission to provide the Marine Corps with a means of ship-to-shore movement by helicopter in addition to movement by landing craft. The ship is capable of vertical/short take-off and landing, short take-off vertical landing, vertical take-off and landing tilt-rotor and rotary wing aircraft operations and contains a well deck to support use of landing craft air cushion and other watercraft.

USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) is named for the epic battle of February 1945, in which three divisions of the United States Marine Corps took control of the tiny island of Iwo Jima from 22,000 determined Japanese defenders.

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