By Mr. Jeffrey M Soares (Army Medicine)June 27, 2019
"From an early age, I always knew I wanted to serve in the military," said Army Col. John Ryan Bailey, who will be leaving the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity after serving as the organization's commander since June 2017.
Upon its Change of Command ceremony on June 26, the USAMMDA team will bid a fond farewell to Bailey. The organization witnessed much success with its medical products and devices during his tenure, and he also helped expertly guide his staff through one of the most substantial realignments in the Army's history. Bailey's next assignment will be the completion of a master's degree in strategic studies from the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy in Washington D.C., after which he will return to Fort Detrick in 2020 to serve as commander of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency.
"USAMMDA is great because of the great people throughout the organization," said Bailey. "We have an important mission, and we certainly promote success through our amazing teamwork here. Despite facing some historic changes, both within our organization and throughout the Army, we continue to remain resilient to ensure we take care of our mission to develop and deliver medical solutions to our Warfighters."
Under Bailey's leadership, USAMMDA achieved Emergency Use Authorization for freeze-dried plasma, three U.S. Food and Drug Administration medical product approvals, and one medical device clearance. As part of USAMMDA's Warfighter Brain Health Project Management Office portfolio, the Laboratory Assay for Traumatic Brain Injury program is one of the groundbreaking efforts that received FDA approval under Bailey. Remarkably, the LATBI device stands as the first-ever blood-based test for the evaluation of mild TBI, and serves as a turning point in revolutionizing clinical practice for brain injury.
Within the Warfighter Protection and Acute Care PMO drugs and vaccines portfolio, Tafenoquine is the first new FDA-approved anti-malarial drug in 18 years. Filling a critical capability gap that will keep troops ready to fight, Tafenoquine is a safe and effective weekly drug to prevent malaria, which remains the number one infectious disease threat to U.S. Service Members deployed overseas. Further, this important drug offers protection against the potentially fatal disease for both the military and civilian populations.
Without question, from his time at USAMMDA, Bailey can add quite a bit to his resume.
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Bailey spent his high school and college years in Georgia, and calls Marietta, Georgia, his hometown. He graduated from North Georgia College with a bachelor's degree in business administration (marketing), and earned an MBA in supply chain management from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He has received numerous military awards and decorations, including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal with Three Oak Leaf Clusters. In addition, he is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit.
Bailey comes from a long line of military veterans, as his grandfather served in the U.S. Navy, while a number of his uncles served our nation as well. He detailed his military pathway, which began with an ROTC scholarship that led to his eventual commission as a Medical Service Corps officer.
"I've had the opportunity to serve in operational units, on staffs, and on deployments, and I really gained a passion for acquisition," he explained. "After I achieved my level-three certification in program management, I started to focus heavily on acquisition-related positions, and that led me here to USAMMDA two years ago."
"I am truly honored to have been selected to command USAMMDA, and I'm proud to have played a role in its great mission and history," he added.
Next year, Bailey will return to Fort Detrick to serve as the commander of USAMMA, where he once managed strategic-level acquisition programs. He is very familiar with the organization, and this past year he helped to welcome a large number of its staff to USAMMDA during an organizational realignment that increased its product development portfolio. Under his command, USAMMDA has not only grown in numbers, but it has been acknowledged for the excellence of its people as well.
"During my time here, I'm happy that I was able to help recognize our great staff members through various federal and military awards, including two Army Wolf Pack awards, a Logistician of the Year award, and a Service to America finalist, with the winner being announced this fall," said Bailey. "I'm also proud that we were recertified this year for the Army Safety Health Management System Safety Star award! All of these things made it such a great environment for everyone here, and especially for me as the commander of such a fantastic team -- I couldn't have asked for a better situation!"
Although Bailey said that his USAMMDA experience will certainly be memorable, the commander was asked to describe his most memorable assignment. He paused for a moment, and then offered a very interesting -- and enlightening -- response.
"I'd have to say that my most memorable assignments are the ones where I deployed, such as to Iraq and a temporary duty assignment to Afghanistan," explained Bailey. "Being as close to the edge of the battlefield as a medical person can get, you really understand the true nature of the threat, and how we save lives. I now know that it truly takes everyone -- from the people at the 'end of the spear' all the way back to the USAMRDC [U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command] and USAMMDA, and all of the other organizations back here -- to be successful.
"But being there, and being in it, is truly among my most memorable experiences in the Army," he continued. "It may not have been my most enjoyable, but these were certainly the most memorable. It's something that I will never forget."
Just recently, the length of an assignment to command USAMMDA was increased from two to three years, and Bailey explained that he would have stayed another year in the position if it had not affected the other opportunities that will allow him to serve in different ways. As he is approaching three decades of military service, Bailey is carefully considering what the future may hold for him, in terms of new challenges.
"After my assignment as commander of USAMMA, which begins next year, I will be very close to my 30-year retirement point, so we'll have to see what new chapter will unfold for me at that time -- but I'm certainly open to anything," he said.
Bailey and his family love to travel, and they enjoy hiking and mountain biking, and other types of outdoor activities such as playing golf and watching baseball, football and soccer. The commander also likes to cook, and he displayed this fine trait during USAMMDA's annual Chili Cook-off event. Although he may not have won the title, Bailey's unique dishes always placed high in the competition -- and he admits that he will miss these social events a great deal.
He quickly reiterated that he truly will miss the people, the programs, and the great mission of USAMMDA.
"It's a very special place with a very special calling," he said. "It's hard to find this anywhere else."
Yes, Bailey will miss the organization, but he will be missed as well. This is the one thing about military assignments that can never be avoided: the bonds that are formed are destined to be broken at the end of a tour. That's just the way it is.
However, if you lead well, and are well led, the memories of that assignment will last forever.
It's probably safe to say that, in this case, this will prove to be true for Bailey as well.
As a subordinate command of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, USAMMDA maintains a mission to develop and deliver quality medical capabilities to protect, treat and sustain the health of our nation's Service Members throughout the world.