The reins of leadership changed hands for Regional Health Command – Central during a change of command, relinquishment of responsibility and retirement ceremony at Wood Auditorium on Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston July 2.
Brig. Gen. Wendy L. Harter assumed command from Brig. Gen. George (Ned) Appenzeller, and Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph L. Cecil relinquished responsibility as the Region command sergeant major and retired after 32 years of service. Lt. Gen. R Scott Dingle, commanding general of U.S. Army Medical Command and the surgeon general of the U.S. Army, was the host and reviewing officer of the ceremony.
Following the passing of the colors, officially signifying the change of command and relinquishment of responsibility, Dingle started his remarks by sharing a quote from Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent,” MacArthur said.
Dingle then compared both Appenzeller and Cecil to that quote.
“Ned and Command Sgt. Maj. Cecil, you’ve led RHCC in an extraordinary manner. Not just because it’s the largest region, not because of its complexity, not because of the 12 military treatment facilities, 44 dental clinics, 29 public health and veterinary facilities that are spread across 20 states, the largest geographical area. Not because the team of nearly 22,000 medical professionals and staff provided quality patient care for more than 600,000 beneficiaries. It wasn’t because of the complexity of the healthcare delivery at every post, camp and station. But, it was because, as Gen. MacArthur said, your exceptional leadership to make hard decisions but more importantly to listen to your teammates. Your accomplishments reach far and deep,” Dingle said.
He then addressed Harter, who he referred to as a “flawless leader.” He added she was the right commander at the right time.
“I have no doubt you will continue to lead with professional leadership excellence,” He said
“Remember,” Dingle said, “as Regional Health Command – Central goes, so goes the MEDCOM. So lead with excellence. You have a team of teams and are truly a competent and compassionate leader. I wish you the best.”
Appenzeller followed, thanking the Region for their warmth and dedication to the mission.
“I could not think of a better group of people to command. They brought me in like I had been here my whole life. They embrace life, they don’t fear change, they accept every challenge and look for the next; and most importantly they have a focus on the right things,” Appenzeller said. “I can think of no better people to have spent the last year with. It is all about these people.”
In an emotional goodbye to the Region, Cecil thanked the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, civilians and contractors that make up RHCC. He also thanked the sergeants major across the Region for their outstanding professionalism.
When reflecting back on his selection for the position as the command sergeant major of RHCC he thanked retired Brig. Gen. Jeffrey J. Johnson for entrusting him with the responsibility and said “it did feel as though I was coming back to where I belong.”
Finally, he thanked his family. To his children he said, “Daddy will, for the first time in your life, not be a Soldier in uniform. But, I will be a Soldier for Life.”
“Julie, we have made it to the end of our active duty role. You told me when you retired that I would know when it was my time. The last two years here, at home, in Central have been great, but it is my time,” he said.
“Army Medicine is Army Strong. Once mine, always mine. I’m here, if you ever need me.,” said Cecil.
During her remarks, Harter said she is looking forward to serving with the RHCC team as they continue the mission and provision of health service support, force health protection and strategic medical readiness.
“As we move forward in this challenging and enduring COVID-19 environment, we will continue to demonstrate and provide the agility, readiness, relevance, responsive and reliable multi-disciplinary capabilities that Army Medicine brings to bear for our nation, both at home and overseas,” she said. “We will remain steadfast in our mission focus as an integral part of the entire Military Health System and its future."