PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 31 held a change of command ceremony Dec. 29 on Joint Base Pearl-Harbor Hickam.
Capt. David A. Bretz relieved Capt. Charles A. Johnson as commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 31. Commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, Rear Adm. John V. Fuller was the guest speaker.
"Today is a special day and for the gentlemen on the dais with me, it's well documented as a bitter-sweet day," said Fuller. "Today we thank and recognize Commodore Charles "Chuck" Johnson and we welcome the next commodore, Capt. David Bretz who is fleeting up after serving as DESRON-31's deputy commodore. Serving as deputy and then commodore, Capt. Johnson led the staff through uncharted waters as DESRON-31 transferred ISIC (Immediate Superior in Command) responsibilities for its seven destroyers to various other DESRONs in 3rd Fleet. He ensured each ship made a smooth transition and that each ship was on track to deploy with its newly assigned Carrier Strike Group."
Fuller continued to praise Johnson on his many accomplishments including Johnson's leadership after the command deployed as the command element in the Western Pacific also known as Pacific Surface Action Group (PACSAG).
"Under Chuck's great leadership, 3rd Fleet's inaugural PACSAG delivered phenomenal success. It met our leaders' goals to achieve flexible, agile sea control across multiple domains, especially the maritime domain. It was a positive step forward," said Fuller. "Leaders hand-picked Commodore Johnson to lead more than 1,000 Sailors on the first PACSAG deployment. He, DESRON-31 and assigned ships exceeded expectations. DESRON-31 developed cutting-edge Aegis tactics and new integrating techniques that incorporate the Air Force, Marines and Army in the maritime fight."
"While we are sad to see Chuck leave, we are very happy to see Capt. Bretz take his opportunity to lead Sailors while in a position of great trust and responsibility," said Fuller. "Now, Capt. Bretz is ready to lead the DESRON-31 team in the face of a rapidly changing maritime security environment. Dave, you will undoubtedly face new challenges as the Navy delivers new ships, weapon systems and capabilities here to Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, our numbered fleets and the U.S. Pacific Fleet. We will see improvements in training and tactics to address new and increasingly more sophisticated threats in a changing world -- where maritime, technological and information systems are evolving exponentially. I look forward to meeting those challenges with you. I look forward to seeing you educate, train and - most importantly - inspire our most talented and innovative Sailors."
Following Fuller's speech Johnson was awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious service as commander, Destroyer Squadron 31 from August 2015 to December 2016.
Following the award, Johnson contributed his success to the staff of DESRON-31, supporting commands and ships.
"To the DESRON staff -- You are without a doubt the best DESRON staff there is," said Johnson. "You continuously put Sailors and ships first. You have all had your hands in something, much of it unknown to me and that is exactly the way it should be. I trust each of you to do the right thing. Thank you all for making this job and tour a great one!"
Johnson received his pennant and a gift from the staff mess then read his orders. Bretz followed suit reading his orders and both men saluted each other ceremoniously turning over the command from one leader to the next.
Following the official turnover Bretz thanked the staff for a smooth transition and was anxious to assume command.
"Thank you for supporting Commodore Johnson and myself. You are an amazing team of professionals," said Bretz. "The continued success of DESRON-31 will be impossible without you. Being half way across the Pacific, we are always ready to take control of the seas forward. We will do that in the near term with PACSAG-2. I look forward to serving with you to do everything honorable and glorious to guarantee the peace."
Bretz was previously assigned as deputy commodore of DESRON-31. Johnson will be reporting to Commander, 6th Fleet in Naples, Italy.
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