WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — The Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group held a promotion and change of command ceremony at Naval Weapons Station Cheatham Annex on Oct. 5.
Rear Adm. Jackie McClelland, from Ocean City, New Jersey, relieved Rear Adm. Alan J. Reyes, who was promoted to rear admiral (upper half) and served as NAVELSG’s commander since Sept. 22, 2015.
Mark Sakowski, NAVELSG chief of staff, began the ceremonies by speaking on the uniqueness of the ceremonies.
“Today is a very special day, as you will actually witness two events that honor the heritage, core values and long-standing traditions of our naval service, and they also serve to forge the foundation for future naval generations to come. The first event is a promotion ceremony, where Rear Adm. Reyes will receive his second star and be promoted to a rear admiral (upper half), which will be be presided by Rear Adm. Michelle Skubic, commander of Naval Supply Systems Command and chief of Supply Corps.
"The second event will be a change of command, where Rear Adm. Reyes will be relieved as commander, NAVELSG, by Rear Adm. Jackie McClelland,” Sakowski said.
Sakowski then spoke to the audience of more than 200 NAVELSG personnel, family, and friends on the history of the change of command ceremony.
“The U.S. Navy change of command ceremony is a time-honored tradition which has its roots in a rich naval heritage dating back centuries to the earliest beginnings of our service. It is a formal ritual conducted before the assembled ship’s crew marking the formal passing of responsibility, authority and the accountability of command from one officer to another.”
Sakowski continued: “It is a custom wholly naval, without an equivalent counterpart in the other services. Custom has established that this ceremony be formal and impressive and designed to strengthen that respect for authority which is vital to any military organization,” said Sakowski.
Reyes then introduced Skubic as the promotion ceremony’s presiding officer, who addressed the audience.
“I am very proud to be here at NAVELSG, as myself and Rear Adm. Reyes met many years ago and I have no doubt that his promotion is well deserved and I know he is very thrilled to share this experience with all of you today because this tour and your support are a part of what made this possible,” said Skubic.
Skubic then read the oath of promotion as Reyes repeated it, assuming the title and rank of rear admiral (upper half).
The ceremony then transitioned to the change of command ceremony. Reyes introduced Rear Adm. Brian J. Brakke, commander, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command and NECC Pacific, who was the presiding officer for ceremony.
Brakke started his remarks by thanking the families of Reyes and McClelland and addressed the audience.
“In the business of logistics, he is one of the best, and during your time at NAVELSG your work is an example of your father’s teachings, your father was your inspiration and it shows in the legacy you leave behind. NAVELSG’s work in the area of cargo handling, terminal operations, fuels distribution, postal services, customs and inspections, ordnance reporting and handling, and expeditionary communications is what enables our U.S. Navy to be the most lethal in the world,” said Brakke.
Brakke then spoke about Reyes and the accomplishments of NAVELSG and the forward deployed forces during Reyes’ tenure.
"He provide worldwide logistics to all six geographic combatant commanders, specifically the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility where he oversaw continuous rotation of combat service support sailors who operated in support of the war fighters in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The 400 plus reserve component sailors were able to do that because of his efforts in planning mobilization, training, equipment, deployment and redeployment and reconstitution of those forces,” Brakke said.
Brakke closed his remarks, then called the military personnel present to attention and asked the guests to rise as he awarded the Legion of Merit Medal to Reyes for his accomplishments while in command of NAVELSG. Brakke then turned the floor over to Reyes. Reyes thanked the numerous honored guests in attendance and spoke to NAVELSG for the last time as its commanding officer.
“I want to thank my family and thank you all for being here today with my Navy family here in the capitol of Cargo Nation, a nation I’m proud of and its 2,700 plus sailors, marines, civilians and its families, as it has been an honor to serve as your commander for these two very, very short years," Reyes said. "That pride and honor stems from the fact that every day you strive to meet our mission, to provide flawless expeditionary logistics around the world, around the clock. That you demonstrated every day to rearm, refuel and resupply contributing directly to the lethality of our Navy and joint force. It is essential to fight and win whether in counter insurgency operations, special operations or in today’s great power of competition. Simply put, you bring the fight and you do it right.”
Reyes ended his remarks and he and McClelland then read their orders before meeting in front of Brakke to ceremonially execute the change of command. McClelland then addressed NAVELSG for the first time as its 14th commanding officer.
“This is an exciting time to be in Cargo Nation. Assuming command of NAVELSG is a momentous occasion of which I’m honored to serve. Cargo Nation is the best at what it does there is no doubt. I look forward to training, maintaining and if necessary fighting alongside you” McClelland said.
NAVELSG is a vital enabler of Maritime Prepositioning, Joint Logistics Over The Shore operations, and maritime forces ashore providing expeditionary cargo handling services for surface, air, and terminal operations, tactical fueling, and ordnance handling/reporting in support of worldwide naval, joint, interagency, and combined forces/organization.