By Chuck Cannon, Fort Polk Guardian staff writerJuly 8, 2009
FORT POLK, La. -- Col. Kelly A. Murray took command of Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital and the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity, Fort Polk, during a change of command ceremony at 8:30 a.m. June 30 on Warrior Field.
Murray replaced Col. George N. Giacoppe who is retiring after a 28-year Army career.
Brig. Gen. Joseph Caravalho Jr., commanding general of Great Plains Regional Medical Command and Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, served as host commander and told members of Murray's new command they had another top-notch commander.
"I can think of none finer to follow in the footsteps of Colonel Giacoppe and all he has accomplished," Caravalho said. "I envision a great future for Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital."
Caravalho also praised Giacoppe.
"I am amazed at what has been accomplished under Colonel Giacoppe's leadership," he said. "We owe a debt of gratitude to Colonel Giacoppe and the entire Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital staff for what they have accomplished these past two years. George, you've crafted together a smooth running team. Thank you for a job exceptionally well done."
Giacoppe told those gathered on the parade field that the Army and MEDCOM were finally catching up to the fact that it is important to take care of Soldiers and Family members who are not deployed.
"The Army Family Covenant came out and the Army said that after eight years of war it was important to take care Families while the Soldiers deployed," Giacoppe said. "You guys knew this all along and took care of folks that were here. You did what was right without worrying about being rewarded, without media attention and without being praised."
Giacoppe closed by thanking his Family and the Soldiers of BJACH for their support during his tour as commander.
"It's been an honor and privilege to serve with you," he said.
Murray, beginning her second tour on Fort Polk, said it was great to be back. She served as regimental surgeon for the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment from 2003-2004.
"I'm really honored by the opportunity to lead this MEDDAC team," she said. "I'm also humbled by the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of a fine leader."
Pointing out that a successful command depends upon the quality of Soldiers and civilians of that command, Murray said she had great expectations for her time at BJACH.
"With all of the talented people at BJACH, I look forward to a successful command," she said. "We will continue to strive to improve the care for our Family members, Soldiers and retirees."
Murray said she has met many old friends since her return to Fort Polk.
"I can't tell you how great the welcome has been," she said. "It's like I never left. The hospital looks wonderful and I'm thrilled to be back."
When asked what attributes she brings to her new job, Murray listed diversity first.
"I've been at MEDCOM headquarters and have seen things from a higher level," she said. "Hopefully, I can bring some of the skills that I learned there."
Murray said the first area she'll address is patient access to care.
"With (overseas contingency operations) going on we have a shortage of providers," she said. "It is hard to recruit civilian people to this area. That's one of the main areas we're working on - increase the number of providers."
As for her leadership style, Murray said Soldiers in her command can expect strong, straightforward leadership.
"There won't be a lot of ambiguity - what you see is what you get," she said. "And a little bit of humor; I want our folks to enjoy themselves; I want them to want to come to work in the morning and see that it's a good working environment and a fun place. I think if you enjoy where you work you're going to take better care of your Soldiers."