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NMRLC Makes History with Echelon Elevation Ceremony

29 June 2022

From Julius Evans

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - A long line of events usually precede an ultimate result before significant changes make the front page of any newspaper and online publication. Such was the case with this evolution. The command responsible for providing life-saving support to USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71), and helping its crewmembers survive the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak while docked at Naval Base Guam, was renamed and its leadership changed on Jun 8.

Background

The Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, Section 702, directed the Defense Health Agency (DHA) to assume responsibility for the administration and management of healthcare delivery through all military medical treatment facilities, naval hospitals and clinics effective Oct. 1, 2018.

Department of Defense (DoD), Department of the Navy and Navy Medicine were prepared to commence a series of realignments and reorganizations to facilitate this transfer of full control to DHA. But those plans were halted in their tracks when the world experienced the brisk spread of the Coronavirus which caused the COVID-19 Pandemic outbreak.

For those entities, the transition of responsibility was paused while Navy doctors, nurses, Hospital Corpsman, and other Services medical and support personnel were deployed to multiple locations throughout the United States. They were also dispatched around the world in an effort to thwart the pandemic and further save lives.

The Transfers of Function

After a six-month pause, the Department of Defense reengaged in overhauling the military health system by continuing to transfer the responsibilities and oversight of military medical treatment facilities to DHA. While the timeline for completion shifted, transitions continued to occur.

One of the most recent transitions directly impacted by the transfers and realignments was held this month, June 2022, in Williamsburg, VA.

Rear Adm. Darin K. Via, Commander, Naval Medical Forces Atlantic, and the senior market manager of the tidewater Military Health System, made the keynote address at the historic ceremony which elevated Naval Medical Readiness Logistics Command (NMRLC) over its former Immediate Superior in Command, essentially swapping its order of authority and echelon status.

This preceding also served as a change of command ceremony, effectively bestowing upon the outgoing commanding officer, the last person to hold that title.

“There are very few times where we establish a new command. The significance of today’s establishment can simply be summarized as a necessary change to the unique mission that our logistics commands have been tasked with and to ensure that our Sailors are consistently put first,” Rear Adm. Via said.

He continued by explaining that the (organization) change aligned with the transition in the military health system and Navy medicine’s vital mission in projecting Medical Power for Naval Superiority.

“At the end of the day, the very core reason for this change is about warfighter readiness, and our ability to force generate ready medical and medically ready forces,” Via said.

Speeches

After the admiral congratulated Morrison for a job well done, the outgoing commanding officer shared a few compassionate words with the audience and his family members.

“There was never a dull moment around here,” he said. “Someone once told me to enjoy my time in the seat as CO because it will go by quickly, and it has. Today marks a total of three years as the CO and five years stationed here at the command. This ceremony is the perfect end and the ideal closure to a very long very busy, but successful tour. It was an absolute honor and privilege to have been given the opportunity to lead such an exceptional organization, and I am happy to have been a part of the legacy that was under the name Navy Expeditionary Medical Support Command,” he said.

Master of Ceremonies, Cmdr. Janine Espinal, MSC, USN and executive officer of the command, invited all personnel attending to rise as the heart of the change of command ceremony is the act of reading the official orders.

“When directed by reporting senior, detach from Navy Expeditionary Medical Support Command and report to US Fleet Forces Command, signed A. Holsey, Rear Admiral, Commander Navy Personnel Command,” Morrison read.

Cmdr. Marcinkiewicz approached the podium and cited his orders.

“When directed by reporting senior, detach from Naval Medical Logistics Command and report as Commanding Officer of Naval Medical Readiness Logistics Command, signed A. Holsey, Rear Admiral, Commander Navy Personnel Command,” he read.

After the orders were read and Cmdr. Marcinkiewicz officially relieved Capt. Morrison of his duties, for the first time, in leadership of a newly reorganized command, Cmdr. Marcinkiewicz addressed the audience as the commanding officer of the Navy’s most recent echelon elevated command, Naval Medical Readiness Logistics Command.

“It’s funny. If you would have told Fireman Recruit Marcinkiewicz back in 1990, when he was stationed on the USS SAN DIEGO (LPD 22), that he would be attending his own change of command ceremony someday, he would have thought you were crazy,” he said. “You see, back then, even though I was glad that I had joined the Navy, all I was thinking about was finishing my enlistment and getting out because I was certain of one thing … the Navy life was not for me. Imagine that. Life is kind of funny that way.”

He thanked several mentors who were in the audience and he thanks his staff from his previously command. He thanked his former commander, Capt. Steve Aboona and he thanked Rear Adm. Via for allowing him to assume the role of acting commander in Fort Detrick for the past 13 months.

But his most heart-felt acknowledgement went to his wife, who could not attend the ceremony because she was quarantined in Europe after contracting COVID-19.

“Tomomi, you have been there for me throughout my career patiently waiting for me to return from deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and ships’ deployments. And you always know just want to say and how to cheer me up when things don’t go just as planned … and in the military things often do not go as planned. And as I always say, we make a great team and I am eager to start the next chapter in my career with you in my corner and as they say in Japanese, Aishstuda you, Tomomi (I love you, Tomomi).

Conclusion

At 10:35 a.m., Capt. Robert C. Morrison, USN, MSC was relieved of his responsibilities as commanding officer where Cmdr. Matthew P. Marcinkiewicz, USN, MSC took the helm of NMRLC. Morrison became the last person to hold the title of NEMSCOM commanding officer. Marcinkiewicz assumed command of the three activities that now fall under his leadership.

 

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