AGANA HEIGHTS, Guam (NNS) -- Joint Region Marianas held a change of command ceremony at the Guam High School gymnasium aboard U.S. Naval Hospital Guam Aug. 15.
Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar relieved Rear Adm. Tilghman Payne as commander, Joint Region Marianas; U.S. Defense Representative Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of Palau; and commander, U.S. Naval Forces Marianas.
Vice Adm. William French, commander, Navy Installations Command was the ceremony's guest speaker and praised Payne for his leadership during his tour.
"The region Marianas team flawlessly executed over five-hundred million dollars worth of military construction," French said. "Tilghman and his team managed the largest U.S. training range in the Western Pacific. Over the last two years, Tilghman and his team have coordinated over two thousand training events on those ranges and that's really what matters."
Following his remarks, French presented Payne with the Defense Superior Service Medal for his service on Guam from July 2012 to August 2014.
During that time, Payne provided context regarding the U.S. Defense Policy Realignment Initiative to senior members of the U.S. and Japanese governments, furthering force realignment to Guam. In the wake of threats from North Korea, he led the effort to receive a Terminal High Altitude Defense system, a strategic asset that strengthened regional defenses, deferred aggression and highlighted the nation's commitment to the defense of the Mariana Islands.
"The past two years have been an extraordinary opportunity for me both professionally and personally," Payne said. "This job has enabled me to be involved in the entire breadth of activities that a military officer can do. It involves a bit of diplomacy, lots of work with the other services, great engagement with the community and the ability to make things better for our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, and their families."
Payne thanked members of the Government of Guam and the local community for their partnership and expressed his gratitude to his staff for their support during his tour.
"All the men and women who have made the past two years at the helm of the only joint region in the Department of Defense such an enjoyable experience, thank you," he said. "You are doing incredible things and it's been an honor to be a part of your team."
Payne retires after 33 years in the Navy.
Bolivar reports to Guam after serving as commander, Navy Region Northwest.
"The morale and energy of this region are awesome and strong," Bolivar said. "I know I have some big shoes to fill but you can rest assured that you will leave team Marianas in good hands. They will be my top priority and together we will meet the challenges head on with continued success. Team Guam, team Marianas, thank you for the warm welcome you've shown me so far. I look forward to working with each and every one of you."
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas, visit www.navy.mil/local/guam/.