Kemper Takes First Command, Sullivan Heads to the Marine Corps

Story Number: NNS160523-04Release Date: 5/23/2016 9:01:00 AM
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By Julius L. Evans, Naval Medical Logistics Command Public Affairs

WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia (NNS) -- In March, Naval Medical Logistics Command's (NMLC) former executive officer was frocked to his present rank aboard USS Constellation in the Baltimore Harbor. On April 29, he took command of the Navy's largest medical logistics support command, Navy Expeditionary Medical Support Command (NEMSCOM), located in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Capt. Michael J. Kemper relieved Capt. Edward J. Sullivan as commanding officer of NEMSCOM. The command provides comprehensive, shore-based medical support to U.S. and allied forces in the event of contingency operations anywhere in the world. It is responsible for designing, procuring, assembling, pre-positioning, storing, maintaining and providing life cycle support for Expeditionary Medical Facilities around the world. This global involvement allows NEMSCOM to support combatant commanders with the right medical resources through configured expeditionary medical logistics capabilities tailored to meet clinical missions.

Rear Adm. Rebecca J. McCormick-Boyle, Commander, Navy Medicine Education and Training Command, San Antonio, Texas, recently assumed administrative authority for NMLC and its subordinate commands, which include NEMSCOM, Naval Ophthalmic Support and Training Activity, Yorktown, Virginia, and NMLC Detachment Pirmasens, Germany. In her comments, she highlighted their critical responsibility for supporting and equipping deployed expeditionary medical personnel.

"'Being there; where it matters, when it matters' is the Navy motto," she said. "We are deployed and ready to deploy around the world, 24/7, to support the warfighter and ensure Sailors and Marines are ready to carry out their missions." She also said wherever Fleet Forces go, Navy Medicine is there. "And it is you, NEMSCOM, that provides the expeditionary medical logistics capabilities that save lives."

Sullivan can take heed in the role he played in preserving, expanding and modernizing these capabilities. Now, he departs NEMSCOM after a two-year tour of duty and heads back 'home' to Headquarters, United States Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., in somewhat of a home coming.

"When I was growing up, my dad always told me the stories of Belleau Wood, Frozen Chosin and Iwo Jima. We lived on Long Island, so there were few, if any, military personnel in that area. We did not have any immediate family members in the military; so these stories had a significant influence on my life," Sullivan said. "The Marines were always outnumbered three to one; they always faced insurmountable odds; but in the end, the enemies were always decimated. I always thought these were the greatest stories. So as you might imagine, I wound up joining the Marine Corps. However, when I got to Fleet Marine Force, as a 2nd Lt., it became readily apparent that I had no idea what I had gotten myself into."

Sullivan went on to explain that he found himself in trouble adjusting to the Marine Corps way of life. He said his saving grace was the gunnery sergeant who took him under his wing and laid out the facts of life by looking out for him. On one particularly bad day, the gunny said."

"That has worked for me throughout the years and I want to compel all of you to do that for your people as well, as you ascend through the ranks throughout your careers," Sullivan said.

Sullivan has since applied this leadership insight in his career as a Navy Medical Service Corps officer and will no doubt lean on this wisdom as he returns to working with the Marine Corps.

With that, Sullivan read his orders and stood ready to be relieved by Kemper. Then, Kemper took the podium and read, "When directed, detach from Naval Medical Logistics Command and report as Commanding Officer to Navy Expeditionary Medical Support Command."

Capt. Mary Seymour, NMLC's commanding officer, presided over the exchange of authority through the rendering of salutes. That traditional exchange signifies the formal passing of responsibility, authority and accountability of command from one officer to the next. At that point, Mrs. Renee Kemper joined her husband to adorn his uniform with the Command Ashore pin. Then, Kemper greeted all those present, including his new officers and crew.

"To the men and women of Navy Expeditionary Medical Support Command, I feel like the luckiest Sailor in the United States Navy. I can honestly say there is no other command I would rather be assuming today. I am very excited about the journey we are about to embark upon together, and I have the utmost confidence we will continue the NEMSCOM legacy of being the small command that gets big things done," Kemper said.

Prior to Kemper taking the podium, Seymour highlighted several key points about NEMSCOM's success.

"Capt. Sullivan and his team listened to the customer's wants, needs and desires and helped shape solutions that were instrumental in identifying those flexible and adaptive operational medical capabilities critical to the development of an expedient path for delivery to the warfighter across the full Range of Military Operations. They enthusiastically assembled the Expeditionary Medical Unit BRAVO (EMU-10B) ashore demonstration, and the subsequent rapid deployment, employment and retrograde of this $2 million, 10-bed hospital aboard the USNS Choctaw County (JHSV-2). As a result of the deft execution of this evolution, the USNS Choctaw County was able to return to station ahead of schedule. The command's contribution to this initiative was critical to the success of this evolution, which included the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, United States Fleet Forces Command and United States Pacific Fleet. This is an ongoing effort and is just one part of our move toward capabilities-based medical treatment facilities," she continued.

"Like Capt. Sullivan, Capt. Kemper served as my XO previously, so I may be a little biased when I say you are again in good hands. Capt. Kemper is one of the most patient, kind-hearted and respectful gentlemen I have had the pleasure to serve with. I know how much he is looking forward to this new adventure with all of you and I am confident there is no one who will work harder to ensure you have a voice and the resources you need to accomplish the mission. Capt. Kemper, Mike, I couldn't be more proud to be here today to celebrate this career milestone with you. Congratulations Skipper!"

As every eye in the front row was wiped dry and the congratulatory hugs were given with warm, compassionate embraces, the audience moved to the reception area that was ultimately filled with the sounds from a surprise bagpipe serenade by one of the NEMSCOM staff, belting out the tune "When Irish Eyes are Smiling," a fitting tribute considering the heritage of those participating in the ceremony.

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