JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
Brooke Army Medical Center held a simultaneous change of command and change of responsibility ceremony May 11 on the hospital’s ground helipad.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Johnson relinquished command to Brig. Gen. George “Ned” Appenzeller and Command Sgt. Maj. Diamond Hough relinquished responsibility to Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Oates during the ceremony hosted by Maj. Gen. Thomas Tempel, Regional Health Command-Central commanding general.
“I can’t say enough about the team here who makes this institution the pinnacle of military health care,” Tempel said. “The 8,800 military members, civilians and contractors are the heart and soul of Brooke Army Medical Center.”
Tempel highlighted the integrated team of Army, Navy and Air Force health care professionals who work at BAMC and the partnerships within Joint Base San Antonio and the San Antonio community. He also spoke about the accomplishments of Johnson and Hough.
“I can proudly tell you that the expertise gained through wartime trauma care is being applied to the healing of all those who arrive for care,” Tempel said. “Brooke Army Medical Center’s partnership with this great community and the can-do attitude of the providers and staff at this facility are a direct result of the outstanding leadership this command team brings to Army Medicine.”
Tempel also praised their spouses. “It’s the love and support of Paula and Marie that has really made a difference in this organization as well,” he said, thanking them for their contributions.
Johnson thanked his wife, Paula, and Hough for their support, and reminisced about the patients, staff and city leaders he met during this time at BAMC. He also thanked the BAMC, 959th Medical Group and Institute of Surgical Research staff for their support.
“Today is a bittersweet day for me,” Johnson said. “It’s hard to describe my feelings about leaving Brooke Army Medical Center after the past two years. Being the commander of the busiest military treatment facility within the Department of Defense has been a tremendous honor and privilege.
“Thank you all for your loyalty, your dedication to duty and country, and your tireless efforts to care for our patients and for one another,” Johnson said. “You truly are a team or teams, I’m honored to have been a small part of your journey and I look forward to the continued efforts.”
Johnson will take command of RHC-C later this month.
Hough said the day for him was “simply about thanking.”
“The sense of pride and accomplishment, how humble I felt to serve here at BAMC; no speech I write can express it,” he said, as he thanked those who helped and mentored him during his time here.
Hough addressed BAMC’s senior officers and noncommissioned officers.
“I would like to thank you because I have challenged you and you have all risen to the challenge,” Hough said. “Like the true warriors you are, you excelled. You have exceeded my expectations.
“People, people, people; if you don’t remember anything else, remember to be thankful for each other,” Hough said. “That’s what matters.”
Hough’s next assignment will be command sergeant major of RHC-Atlantic.
Tempel then turned to Appenzeller and Oates, welcoming them and their families to BAMC.
“Ned you are absolutely the right leader at the right time for BAMC, for this region and for military medicine,” he said. “In addition to your clinical knowledge and skills, you possess all the leadership skills that are necessary to ensure BAMC continues to excel as an organization.
“Your battle buddy, Command Sgt. Maj. Oates, is going to bring a wealth of knowledge and experience about our central region.” Tempel added. “His dedication and his focus on taking care of Soldiers is legendary and he’s partnered perfectly with your experience.
“I have the greatest confidence in this command team and I am grateful that they have their families to support them as they assume command,” Tempel said.
Appenzeller began by thanking his family for their support. He then turned his attention to the Soldiers and support personnel who participated in the ceremony, thanking them for their efforts.
He described how BAMC and Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston has changed since he was here for his residency in 1996.
“The one thing that has not changed is that this is still the friendly, caring, compassionate and wonderful community that it has always been,” the new commander said. “My family and I are beyond excited to be here and we feel privileged that we are allowed to serve and be with BAMC and this Joint Base San Antonio community.”
Oates spoke about his priorities, “God, family and Business.”
“God is first, so I thank Him for giving me this opportunity,” Oates said.
He joked about how his family grew from four to over 8,500 in a matter of the passing of the colors and highlighted the general’s number one priority – readiness.
“My boss is ready, I am ready, you are ready, we are ready,” Oates said. “Together our families are ready to fight our nation’s wars – any conflict, any time and if the need be tonight – I’m ready.”