GREAT LAKES, Ill (NNS) -- Navy Region Midwest (NRMW) welcomed aboard its newest leader in a change of command ceremony at Naval Station Great Lakes, June 27.
Capt. Ricky Williamson relieved Rear Adm. Tilghman Payne as commander before a gathering of 250 family, friends and service members on historic Ross Field.
Payne, who is leaving for Guam to serve as commander, Joint Region Marianas, said his two years at NRMW has given someone not from America's heartland an attachment to the area.
"Everything you've heard about Midwest hospitality is true. I've really enjoyed my time here in the Midwest, and I've become attached to the people and to this place," said Payne. "However, I will not miss the winters."
During his first address to NRMW as its commander, Williamson said he looks forward to taking the helm because his first impression of the region has reinforced the good name it has throughout the Navy.
"The flawless reputation the region has earned throughout the [Commander Navy Installation Command] enterprise is truly deserved," said Williamson.
Keynote speaker, Commander, Navy Region Southwest Rear Adm. Dixon Smith, said a change of command ceremony is not only an opportunity to welcome a new leader, but a chance to look back on the accomplishments of the departing.
Smith elaborated how during Payne's tenure he oversaw major upgrades in facilities during fiscally challenging times; kept NRMW going "green" by reducing energy bills and increasing the purchase of alternative-fuel vehicles; helped improve educational opportunities in communities surrounding Naval Station Great Lakes by partnering with the Illinois Board of Education and the local school district to establish a charter school in the former hospital corpsman "A" school building; and significantly increased fire and emergency medical interoperability with local authorities.
"[Rear Adm. Payne's] tour here, leading the essential support required in the development of Sailors, has been exceptional," said Smith, before congratulating Payne on his "outstanding" success as region commander.
NRMW serves as the shore readiness integrator for the 16-state Midwest area.
The region includes three major installations. Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill., serves as the "Quarterdeck of the Navy" with the Navy's only boot camp sending more than 37,000 Sailors to the Fleet every year.
Naval Support Activity (NSA) Crane, Ind., is a multi-mission, multi-service product center with both a Fleet support and industrial base mission. NSA Crane acts as a steward of microwave tubes, printed wiring boards, pyrotechnics, radiation hardened devices and batteries.
NSA Mid-South, Millington, Tenn., serves as the Navy's Human Resources Center of Excellence, enabling manpower management for the Fleet and long-term career management for Sailors and their families. NRMW also supports TACAMO aircraft at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma and 35 Navy Operational Support Centers.
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For more news from Commander, Navy Region Midwest/Naval Station Great Lakes, visit www.navy.mil/local/midwest/.