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USNS Mercy Change of Command Ceremony

03 July 2024

From Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob Woitzel

Capt. Jeffrey H. Feinberg turned over command of the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) to Capt.

Capt. Jeffrey H. Feinberg turned over command of the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) to Capt. Charles E. Dickerson Jr. during a ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island presided over by Commander, Naval Medical Forces Pacific, Director, Defense Health Network of the Pacific Rim, and Chief of the Medical Corps, Rear Adm. Guido Valdes, July 3.

With family, senior enlisted leaders, Mercy crew and other attendees present, Feinberg transferred command to Dickerson in a ceremony on Coronado overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Valdes began his remarks by highlighting Mercy’s history, mission, and accomplishments during her lifetime as the world’s largest hospital ship.

“The USNS Mercy has a storied history, one that continues its proud legacy of providing rapid, flexible, and mobile acute medical and surgical services to support our warfighters in times of crisis and conflict,” said Valdes. “This ship has also been instrumental in numerous humanitarian missions, including the 2004 tsunami relief efforts in southeast Asia, and more recently at the forefront of the whole-nation response during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Valdes continued his remarks by addressing the honor of holding command, and the impact it leaves on those who fall under the commanding officer.

“Holding command is perhaps the most rewarding milestone and position to achieve in the Navy,” said Valdes. “A commanding officer’s decisions and actions directly impact the readiness and well-being of those who defend our nation. It is a sacred trust.”

Feinberg expressed his gratitude to Valdes for presiding over the ceremony, and thanked those in attendance for the support they have given him while overseas and ashore. Feinberg then addressed his experience holding command of Mercy.

“I am not by nature a jealous man, but I am envious of Capt. Dickerson, because he has an entire tour as CO of the greatest floating hospital in the world ahead of him, and trust me when I tell you that there is no better job,” said Feinberg. “I was truly blessed to have this command.”

Feinberg then gave advice to Dickerson as he was relieved of his command.

“Some days aren’t the greatest, and I recommend you do what I did, which was to get out and talk with the crew,” said Feinberg. “Listen to their enthusiasm about their department, how they want to improve it, their new house, playing bass in their new band, studying for ESWS. They are fantastic and just talking with them is revitalizing.”

Dickerson began his remarks by thanking his family, close friends, and mentors for attending the ceremony before addressing Mercy’s crew.

“To the members of the Mercy crew, I am honored to join your team,” said Dickerson. “It is the greatest honor in the Navy to have the privilege of command, and I thank all of you for your hard work in putting together this change of command ceremony today. Team Mercy, my commitment to you is to always be real, to be patient, to be transparent, and to hold you to the highest standard of excellence.”

Mercy can steam to assist anywhere to provide relief as a symbol of Navy Medicine’s abilities around the world, and must be in a five-day-activation status in order to support missions over the horizon, and be ready, reliable and resilient to support mission commanders. (U.S. Navy story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob Woitzel)

Story originally posted on DVIDS: USNS Mercy Change of Command Ceremony


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