U.S. Army Aeromedical Center welcomes new commander
June 28, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 28, 2012) -- The U.S. Army Aeromedical Center bid farewell to one commander and welcomed another during a June 20 ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.
The change of command became official with the traditional passing of the colors from outgoing commander Col. Patrick N. Denman; to Maj. Gen. M. Ted Wong, commanding general of the Southern Regional Medical Command and Brooke Army Medical Center; then to the incoming commander Col. James A. Laterza.
During the ceremony, Laterza said he was delighted to be taking command of the center.
"Colonel Denman's work over the past two years has positioned this medical treatment facility and me for great success," he said. "I want to thank him for his great work and wish him and [his wife] well as they transition to their new assignment."
Laterza, a native of Windham, N.Y., started his Army career by enlisting in the Army in 1983. He obtained his commission through the Army's "Green to Gold" program and earned a degree in business administration. He went on to complete a master's of public administration.
Some of Laterza's past assignments include chief of staff and deputy commander for administration at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, executive officer for Southeast Regional Dental Command and deputy director of operations at Southeast Regional Medical Command.
He has received the Meritorious Service Medal with six oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and several other awards and decorations.
"I view this opportunity as a great honor and privilege," Laterza said of his assignment to Fort Rucker. "I commit to do my best and always put the patient first in everything we do."
Denman will go on to serve as the chief of staff for human resources with the Europe Regional Medical Command in Germany.
Denman said the ceremony was his last chance to say something to motivate the staff and also look back on his time at the aeromedical center and Lyster Army Health Clinic. But, he said, it would be impossible to capture the extent of everything that happened in the past two years with just a few words.
"We've supported Army Aviation, we've consolidated clinics, we've saved money, we've renovated, we've increased the delivery of wellness and we've saved lives," he said. "Nothing that I can say would be good enough for what you all have done."
Denman thanked the patients, the Fort Rucker Community and the Wiregrass area for the support that led to the clinic's success.
He went on to ask Laterza to take care of the Lyster Family and the command team.
"They're the best folks you will ever have," he said.