CAMP ZAMA, Japan (June 17, 2016) - U.S. Army Medical Department Activity-Japan welcomed incoming commander, Col. Andre R. Pippen, while saying farewell to outgoing commander, Col. Thirsa Martinez, during a change of command ceremony held June 16 inside the Yano Fitness Center's gym on the Camp Zama installation.

Presiding over the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Patrick D. Sargent, commanding general of Regional Health Command-Pacific, said the change of command ceremony is a military tradition that officially marks the transfer of authority and responsibility from one commanding officer to another.

"It allows the opportunity to bid farewell to a leader who is ultimately responsible for the success of the unit, and welcoming an equally qualified leader who will pick up the torch and move forward," said Sargent.

The change of command ceremony is not solely about the accomplishments of the leadership; it's about the unit- the Soldiers, contributions and sacrifices they have made during a commander's tenure, said Sargent.

Martinez, who assumed duties as commander of MEDDAC-Japan in June 2014, said during her tenure as commander, MEDDAC-Japan has continued to mature and transform.

"Building a record of readiness, collaboration and transparency--as a member of the Army team, MEDDAC-Japan has been at the forefront," said Martinez.

Spending time working and conducting several exercises with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, Martinez said that MEDDAC-Japan conducted over 40 bilateral events and engagements with JGSDF members.

"Col. Martinez has tirelessly devoted herself to improving patient care," said Sargent.

Whether she is working alongside government officials or civic leaders, Col. Martinez has consistently proven herself to be an outstanding Army medicine senior leader, said Sargent.

Concluding the ceremony, Pippen said that he is honor for the opportunity to work with the Soldiers, Civilians and Local National Employees working for MEDDAC-Japan.

"I look forward for what lies ahead," said Pippen.