JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
In the midst of a brief downpour, Army Brig. Gen. Wendy Harter, the first female commander in Brooke Army Medical Center’s history, turned over command to Army Brig. Gen. Shan Bagby, the first African American commander in BAMC’s history, during a June 26 change of command ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
Brig. Gen. George Appenzeller, Regional Health Command-Central commanding general and former BAMC commanding general, officiated the ceremony.
“I’m glad to be here at the flagship of military medicine in Military City USA,” Appenzeller said. “We’ve had to make changes to our ceremonies this year in response to the global pandemic. However, honoring these two leaders – a commander who has served with distinction, and the officer who is assuming the mantle of command – is still a necessary part of our Army culture, especially during these extraordinary times.”
Appenzeller praised Harter for her accomplishments during her tenure, noting the enrolled patient population of nearly 80,000 at BAMC. He noted that, during a normal day at BAMC, the staff sees nearly a dozen trauma cases, more than 60 admissions, 70 surgeries, and more than 4,200 outpatient visits.
“In this era of the coronavirus pandemic, BAMC’s response to this crisis has been nothing short of amazing,” he continued. “The BAMC team stood up a curbside pharmacy service, filling nearly 95,000 prescriptions from 49,868 vehicles. They have also tested many thousands of patients and sent 105 personnel to New York City, Seattle, and Guam to support COVID-19 missions in overwhelmed cities.”
Appenzeller also highlighted many of Harter’s accomplishments in maintaining and enhancing the overall relationship with Joint Base San Antonio and the City of San Antonio’s leadership and communities. He said she would be missed at BAMC but will be welcomed as the new commanding general at Regional Health Command-Central.
“This has been a fast-paced and challenging year,” Harter said when discussing her tenure as BAMC’s commanding general. “Team BAMC and the San Antonio Military Health System over the last few months have agilely adapted to continue the mission in this enduring COVID-19 environment while simultaneously sustaining our Level I trauma mission and other critical services for our 250,000 beneficiaries and the residents of Military City USA.”
Harter thanked the nearly 9,000 staff members at BAMC, the command team, and military partners and commands across JBSA. She also expressed gratitude for community support from a number of organizations and individuals, to include San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and retired Maj. Gen. Juan Ayala, San Antonio’s Office of Veterans and Military Affairs director.
“It is the passion, dedication, expertise, and talent that each and every one of you bring to Team BAMC that makes us great,” she said. “In my 31 years of military service, as part of a multitude of teams stationed across the globe, I have never served with a team like this one. You continuously lead the way. Keep doing so!”
Before welcoming Bagby and his family, Harter thanked her husband and her family for their unwavering support throughout her command tenure and throughout her career.
Bagby, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, most recently served as deputy commanding general for support, U.S. Army Medical Command. He will continue to serve as Chief of the Army Dental Corps.
In his remarks, Bagby shared his enthusiasm and appreciation for the warm welcome and for the BAMC staff’s hard work and contributions.
“Members of Team BAMC, thank you for all you do,” Bagby said. “You are the reason this storied organization is the pinnacle of military healthcare. I especially would like to thank everyone who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to put this ceremony together. Everyone is extremely busy, and I truly appreciate your hard work and dedication in support of this ceremony, preserving its dignity and splendor, while ensuring our collective safety during the COVID crisis. Command Sergeant Major Oates – you and the team have done an outstanding job. I look forward to being your battle buddy.”
The new BAMC commander also thanked his wife Melanie and daughter Sydney for their incredible support. “We are truly excited to join Team BAMC, an organization with a reputation for providing quality care and leading innovation, research and education.”
Bagby concluded by expressing his appreciation for “Military City USA” and its ongoing support of BAMC. “I look forward to building on the relationships BG Harter has built,” he said.
With the passing of the colors from Harter to Bagby, BAMC’s leadership passed from one to the other. Harter left the field for her next command tour, and Bagby went to work for his first full day as BAMC’s commanding general.