USARIEM welcomes new commander
June 10, 2014
NATICK, Mass. (June 10, 2014) -- Col. Thomas G. Eccles III, M.D., became the 20th commander of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in a June 9 change of command ceremony.
Eccles took over from Col. Deborah L. Whitmer as Maj. Gen. Joseph Caravalho Jr., M.D., commanding general, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, presided. Eccles previously served as chief of the General Pediatrics Service at Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii. Whitmer moves on to the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I.
Caravalho pointed out that in Eccles, USARIEM was getting a Massachusetts Institute Technology graduate, a hazardous materials expert, and a board-certified pediatrician.
"We are confident you come fully prepared for the mission at hand, with a variety of operational and leadership assignments under your belt, as well as deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn," Caravalho said.
Eccles, who grew up in Simsbury, Conn., was obviously pleased to be home.
"I'm a native New Englander, a lifelong Red Sox fan -- and all that goes with it -- an engineer and a physician," Eccles said. "As such, I've followed USARIEM and its unparalleled R&D for more than 25 years.
"I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be able to serve here with you all. General Caravalho, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to lead."
Caravalho recognized Whitmer's efforts at USARIEM during a challenging period in its history.
"Throughout this time, Colonel Whitmer's leadership of this organization has been steadfast and laser-focused," Caravalho said. "Despite budget constraints, she worked tirelessly to ensure researchers could continue to travel and collaborate with partners, ensuring that USARIEM's work was not halted during these uncertain times."
Eccles also saluted Whitmer's service at USARIEM.
"Thank you for your leadership and the friendship you have shown me," Eccles said. "You have brought a brilliant organization through uncertain times and positioned us for a vital role in the Army's future. I am honored and humbled to follow you in command."
Whitmer noted that USARIEM made strides over the past two years despite the fiscal headwinds. She mentioned the Physical Demands Study in particular.
"As a female Soldier and this organization's commander, I knew this team would lend the finest scientific rigor to this important study that the Army could ask for," Whitmer said. "I am confident that once your job is complete, you will have provided valid, reliable and accurate results that will be used to select Soldiers for accession into physically demanding occupations, and I am honored to have been leading the organization during this time."
In closing his remarks, Caravalho praised the "exceptionally fine" people who work at USARIEM.
"The work being done at this organization is critical to our service members," said Caravalho, "ensuring the health, performance and effectiveness of troops in training or combat."