FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Soldiers, civilians and community leaders from the Central Flint Hills region of Kansas bid farewell to Col. John Melton during a Relinquishment of Command ceremony for Fort Riley's Irwin Army Community Hospital Dec. 15 at 1st Infantry Division Headquarters.

Maj. Gen. Thomas R. Tempel Jr., commanding general, Regional Health Command -- Central, presided over the ceremony.

In a traditional act that represents the official transfer of command and responsibility, the Medical Department Activity colors were passed from Melton to Col. Mark MacDougall, who will serve as the acting IACH commander.

During the ceremony, Tempel praised Melton for his exemplary performance as the IACH commander and emphasized his contributions to the community, command and Army readiness.

"Within this community, you are clearly recognized as a leader of outstanding character, one who has given a lot of your talents to build lasting relationships with this community," Tempel said. "You've partnered with the Veterans Eastern Kansas Health Care System and established resource sharing agreements with more than 25 healthcare and educational institutions. Having our mayors, city managers and congressional staffers here is so comforting to see. That is truly the secret to success not only for this hospital, but for this community and what makes Fort Riley a wonderful place to live and come home to."

During his remarks, Tempel also acknowledged Melton for planning and executing a seamless transition into the new facility during his first 100 days of command and designing health care services that fit the needs of Fort Riley families and Soldiers.

"He could easily be the comptroller for Army Medicine," Tempel said. "He excels at all metrics we track. Col. Melton balanced the delivery of healthcare with the readiness needed for an infantry division. That's a tough task."

Tempel concluded by sharing Melton's contribution to readiness, "... every division under III Corps has hit the readiness standard for the first time of under 10 percent, which is an unbelievable accomplishment and hard to do. You were the right person at the right time to come here, and you're the right person at the right time to go Fort Bragg."

Melton thanked Tempel and Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Martin, 1st Infantry Division commanding general, for the opportunity to have led IACH.

He also acknowledged community partners for their efforts and contributions to IACH.
"I have to thank you for the many collaborative opportunities afforded to me and the "Big Red One" hospital toward making lives better for those that live in our communities, some of whom have yet to be born," Melton said. "Know that the Big Red One hospital is and always will be a steadfast and engaged partner in the Central Flint Hills."
Melton concluded his remarks by stating IACH empowers those who fight and win our nation's wars and no one does it better than IACH.

"Finally, know that you, all of you, have made me a better leader, officer, husband, man and human being, for that I am truly grateful," he said.

Melton has been the IACH commander since June 2016 and will move on to become the commander of Womack Army Medical center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The hospital provides health care to Soldiers, families and retirees in the Central Flint Hills region and operates Farrelly, Custer Hill and Aviation Clinics at Fort Riley and the Flint Hills Medical Home in Junction City, Kansas. The Warrior Transition Battalion is also under the command and control of the Medical Department Activity, Fort Riley, in support of ill, injured and wounded Soldiers' and families' healthcare needs.