FORT SILL, Oklahoma (July 22, 2021) -- During his two year command, Col. David Zinnante, Fort Sill Medical Department Activity (MEDDAC) commander, had to deal with two pandemics. The first was the Corona virus, and the second was the disinformation about it. Those were the words of Brig. Gen. Shan Bagby, Regional Health Command – Central commanding general, who presided over the MEDDAC change of command ceremony.
Hundreds of service members, families, friends, co-workers, and post and community leaders attended the ceremony July 22, at Old Post Quadrangle to welcome incoming commander Col. Dan Bridon and to say so long to the Zinnantes.
Bridon was most recently at the Defense Health Agency in Falls Church, Virginia, where he was a financial officer. Zinnante moves on to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to become the chief of staff at the Army Medical Center of Excellence.
In his remarks, Bagby recounted Zinnante’s numerous accomplishments, and he welcomed the Bridons.
First, he acknowledged both colonels’ families present and watching virtually because families are the great strength behind military leaders.
Zinnante and his staff were challenged by leading during the COVID-19 pandemic “and your team responded to every situation with courage and tenacity,” Bagby said.
The Fort Sill MEDDAC consists of Reynolds Army Health Clinic, Sgt. David Bleak Troop Medical Clinic, four behavioral health clinics; and occupational health clinics at McAlester (Oklahoma) Army Ammunition Plant and Pine Bluff (Arkansas) Arsenal. Bagby provided the metrics of MEDDAC’s staff load the past two years.
● Conducted more than 80,000 COVID tests.
● Administered over 25,000 COVID vaccines.
“Their efforts have brought honor and respect both to the profession of arms, and credibility to Army medicine,” the general said.
All this was done while MEDDAC staff had their normal patient workload, and also dealt with an intense Joint Commission Survey, inspections by the American College of Pathologists and the Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force, deployments in support of the nation’s COVID response, and much more, Bagby said.
“Throughout all the uncertainty and turbulence, this outstanding team excelled at the day-to-day mission providing high-quality health care to its more than 35,000 service members, families, and retirees,” Bagy said. This was done while increasing access to care, and decreasing pharmacy wait times.
Bagby said he believed the MEDDAC will continue to excel under Bridon. “I am simply honored to serve alongside you.”
During the ceremony, MEDDAC Command Sgt. Maj. José Cotto gave the MEDDAC colors to Zinnante, who then passed them to Bagby symbolizing his relinquishment of command. The general handed the colors to Bridon representing his acceptance of the command. Bridon then returned the colors to Cotto for safekeeping.
In his speech, Zinnante chose to recognize the efforts of the 800 Soldiers and civilians of the MEDDAC.
“No commander is ever successful without the hard work, dedication, and the loyalty of the staff of Soldiers and civilians,” Zinnante said. During his command, MEDDAC has logged over 900,000 patient visits, dispensed more than 800,000 prescriptions, conducted over 1.6 million diagnostic tests in its laboratory, and performed about 100,000 radiological exams.
Zinnante said it took everyone ranging from custodial staff to coders to support techs to clinical staff, doing their jobs to create a remarkable team.
Zinnante thanked his family, staff, and all the post, brigade, and tenant leaders for their support.
Bridon who was born at Altus (Oklahoma) Air Force Base, jokingly said that it only took him 45 years to return to the state. “I’m glad to be back.”
The Buffalonian (New York) quoted former NFL Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy: “Where else would you rather be than right here, right now?”
“There is no other place I’d rather be than on the field today with these finest of Soldiers, and with all of you,” Bridon said. “I’ve learned that the critical thing is whether you take things for granted, or take them with gratitude. I don’t take this day for granted, and I’m so very grateful for the opportunity to build on the success of this Reynolds team.”
Bridon said that MEDDAC will continue to take care of its beneficiaries, and to make vaccinations a priority as he works with the Lawton Fort Sill community.