USAARL welcomes new commander

By Jim Hughes, Fort Rucker Public AffairsJuly 1, 2021

Col. Michael J. Tarpey assumes command of the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory from Col. Mark K. McPherson as he accepts the unit colors from Brig. Gen. Anthony McQueen, commanding general of the Medical Research and Development Command at Fort Detrick, Md., during a change of command ceremony June 30 in the U.S. Army Aviation Museum. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jim Hughes) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory welcomed its new commander during a change of command ceremony June 30 in the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.

Col. Michael J. Tarpey assumed command of USAARL from Col. Mark K. McPherson after receiving the unit colors from Brig. Gen. Anthony McQueen, commanding general of the Medical Research and Development Command at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

After thanking McPherson for his outstanding leadership that resulted in the many successes that USAARL has enjoyed the past two years, McQueen welcomed Tarpey and his family to the command.

“Mike Tarpey has spent the past year completing his U.S. Army War College fellowship at the George Washington University School of Public Health,” the general added. “His previous experience makes him well-suited to be the next commander of USAARL. He has my trust and confidence to lead this great organization forward – congratulations, Mike.”

McQueen also thanked the Soldiers, civilians and contractors of “this great organization for their dedication and perseverance,” he said. “It’s been a year unlike any before, and yet you stayed the course and continued to uphold your commitment to USAARL’s mission. Colonel Tarpey is lucky to have this fantastic team to work with for the next two years.”

Tarpey, in turn, thanked the general and his command for providing him the opportunity to lead USAARL – “a lab at the tip of the spear in providing operational support to our warfighters,” the new commander said.

“I look forward to joining this great team and continuing the legacy of Colonel McPherson and other previous commanders, along with the entire laboratory staff of military and civilians,” he said. “Our first and primary mission will always be to provide cutting-edge operational research and science tailored to directly improve the protection and performance of our Army Aviation warfighters, and to conserve the flying strength.

“I’ve been privileged many times over the last three decades in combat to personally witness the tremendous asymmetric advantage that Army Aviation provides to our Army, both in taking the fight directly to the enemy and in quickly removing our wounded from the battlefield while providing outstanding en route combat casualty care,” Tarpey said. “I understand that research conducted at USAARL has played a crucial role in enabling those efforts, and I’m excited for the opportunity to build on past successes by continuing to provide research that directly supports Future Vertical Lift and other key Army modernization priorities amidst an ever-changing strategic environment.”

Tarpey also thanked the outgoing commander and the entire USAARL team for their time and effort in setting him and his family up for success at Fort Rucker, and also expressed his appreciation to his family.

“You’re always in my thoughts and prayers, and I’ll never take for granted your support for what at times can be a difficult calling,” he told his wife and children. “Thanks also to my mom, who is here in person, for providing me a powerful foundation and undying support.”

McPherson began his remarks by asking all of the people who work at USAARL to stand up.

“All of the wonderful things that General McQueen said about me are really not about me, they’re about them,” he said gesturing towards those standing. “Anything you say about USAARL is really all about the people who work here and are deeply dedicated to the mission.”

He thanked his family for their support, and the entire the USAARL team for all they accomplished during his command.

“It’s been a fantastic honor to serve at USAARL as we work to ensure that the human is deeply considered and is the center of gravity in our warfighting platforms,” the outgoing commander said. “Even in the depths of a global infectious disease pandemic, this team knocked it out of the park. I’m honored to serve with them.

“USAARL is a special place where the science of medicine and the science of aviation engineering come together to solve the problems inherent in tactical Army Aviation – the only lab like it in the world,” he added. “The pandemic has made it clear that we remain in a period of great power competition. What our great scientists do or fail to do now will echo in the future as our Soldiers face our enemies in coming multi-domain fights.”

McPherson also welcomed the Tarpey family to Fort Rucker and USAARL.

“The USAARL family has consistently demonstrated its agility, its relevance, and its scientific expertise for the warfighter, for the community and for each other,” he said. “I am certain they will embrace you and love you the way they have me. The great scientists, and men and women at USAARL are the best people that you are going to lead, Mike – it’s a fantastic opportunity.”