NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER – Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Patuxent River today held a change of command ceremony, during which Capt. Jeremy J. Hawker relieved Capt. David V. Thomas.

Hawker takes leadership of the command and its four clinics and pharmacies: Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River, Naval Branch Health Clinics Indian Head, Dahlgren, and Joint Base Andrews. The command has a staff of 302 active duty service members, civilians, and contractors. It provides medical care to 12,000 beneficiaries across 279 tenant commands at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Naval Support Activity South Potomac, and Joint Base Andrews.

Rear Adm. Matthew Case, commander of Naval Medical Forces Atlantic, presided over the ceremony, which took place at the Moffett Building and included 120 guests. The ceremony was also live streamed on Facebook.

Case thanked the captains and their families, recognized the staff, and remarked on the command’s important mission of supporting naval aviation. He also described the highlights of Thomas’ command, including his leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID pandemic has been probably the most challenging time in our history,” Case said. “But under David’s leadership, he could navigate through that, take the team, and move forward.”

“Thank you for choosing to serve. Thank you for serving with distinction all these years,” Case added. “As you close this chapter of your military career and move on to the next, you should be proud of your accomplishments, my friend, and your commitment to serve. As you transition, know your Navy family, your nation, is forever grateful to you and your family for your sacrifice. Fair winds and following seas.”

Thomas, a U.S. Navy Nurse Corps member, took command of Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Patuxent River on Sept. 25, 2020, and led through unprecedented challenges. During the COVID-19 pandemic, staff conducted more than 1,300 COVID tests, gave more than 13,700 vaccinations, and deployed to Queens, N.Y., to assist the Defense in Support of Civil Authority COVID vaccination efforts.

During Thomas’ tenure, the command completed a successful Joint Commission survey, earning full accreditation and certification as a Primary Care Medical Home. It transitioned to the Defense Health Agency (DHA) as part of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. It began preparations to implement the DHA’s electronic medical records system, Military Health System Genesis, which will go live in March 2023. It earned the Retention Excellence Award from the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in 2020 and 2021 and the 2020 Navy Surgeon General’s Health Promotion and Wellness Award.

Under Thomas’ leadership, NMRTC Patuxent River deployed sailors supporting Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, Operation Allies Refuge, and the fall 2022 USNS Comfort deployment. It developed its first Tactical Combat Casualty Care program, conducting 15 classes for 160 students.

Following this command tour, Thomas will retire with 32 years of service from the U.S. Navy.

During his remarks, Thomas thanked his family, Executive Officer Capt. Josephine Nguyen, Command Master Chief Elwin Familiar, and each department for their work during the past two years.

“Thank you all,” said Thomas. “I recognize that there are simply too many people to thank, and it wouldn’t be TKN, which is my philosophy; it wouldn’t be true, kind, or necessary if I hopped off of this stage without thanking every one of you for the work that you’ve done and what you’ve meant to me over the last two years.”

Hawker is a U.S. Navy Nurse Corps member and comes to NMRTC Patuxent River following his executive officer tour at NMRTC Great Lakes. He is a decorated, 27-year Navy veteran who has served from Yokosuka, Japan, to Kandahar, Afghanistan.

In taking command, Hawker thanked his family, mentors, and the command’s military and civilian staff for their warm welcome.

“I truly look forward to our mission and commitment to providing a medically ready force in support of the naval aviation community while ensuring a ready medical force to do the mission of the Navy and fight tonight if need be. We will be ready,” said Hawker. “We’ll do this placing our people always first, ensuring we provide optimal and safe care to all our patients while safeguarding our team’s physical and mental wellness. People are our most valued asset to our military success, and we must not forget that there is a family behind every sailor and marine. In doing so, we will strive for professionalism, maintaining our Navy core values of honor, courage, and commitment in all that we do.”

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