JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - In front of over 450 guests, including dozens of general officers and community leaders, Maj. Gen. Mike Talley assumed command of the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence (MEDCoE) from Maj. Gen. Dennis LeMaster during a ceremony June 23, 2022, at the MacArthur Parade Field, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
The event was hosted by Lt. Gen. Theodore Martin, commanding general U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, and included nearly 1,000 Soldiers and staff officers in formation on the field executing drill and ceremony.
“Little did he know that thirty years into the future he would be thrust into what has become the greatest challenge to our nation and the largest causality-producing event in my lifetime, the COVID-19 pandemic,” Martin said, recalling LeMaster’s commission into the Army medical service corps over three decades ago. “Dennis LeMaster provided inspired leadership with his team and they brought everything to bear at MEDCoE and delivered over 45,000 Soldiers expertly trained and delivered out to the field.”
LeMaster took command of MEDCoE January 10, 2020, notably, just prior to the widespread COVID-19 outbreak. Less than 30 days after taking command LeMaster led the command’s pandemic response, enabling inventive solutions to the COVID-19 problem throughout the command such as online learning, staggered training or work hours, and outdoor learning. He also enforced local JBSA, Department of Defense and Army travel bans and mask and vaccine mandates when applicable; anything to keep MEDCoE’s doors open while ensuring the safety and well-being of its Soldiers and Civilians despite uncertainty in the early days of the pandemic, anxiety during the pandemic’s peak, and battling complacency as the weeks and months passed.
Beginning his remarks with a heartfelt ‘Hooah’, LeMaster, who is headed to be the Deputy Commanding General (Support) at the U.S. Army Medical Command (USAMEDCOM), reflected that this concluded ten years of back-to-back command opportunities the Army has given him, for which he said he is forever grateful.
“The last two and half years have been the most meaningful of my career,” LeMaster explained as he thanked the assembled guests, MEDCoE Soldiers, and staff for their hard work during his tenure. “I’m exceptionally proud of all the accomplishments this fine organization has had.”
LeMaster listed the many notable shared accomplishments over the last 29 months while dealing with the many phases of the pandemic. “We continued to produce MOS qualified Soldiers, we modernized professional military education, and we shifted towards large-scale combat operations and multi domain operations,” LeMaster said noting, as a team, they moved Army health systems modernization exponentially forward. “And we all did it during a pandemic, ‘snowmagedon’, and our own reorganization from two brigades into one.”
The MEDCoE is located at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas and is comprised of the 32nd Brigade, four battalions, the Medical Noncommissioned Officer Academy, and several staff elements. MEDCoE is the Army proponent responsible to envision and design responsive Army Medicine capabilities, structure and doctrine that support the fielded force and the future force.
Talley comes to MEDCoE prepared to move the command forward. Prior to his recent assignment as the Deputy Commanding General (Operations), USAMEDCOM, he served as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC). During his two years in command, he also ensured the Army mission continued through the Nation’s pandemic response to COVID-19. Talley led USAMRDC’s subordinate units and laboratories as they developed medical solutions to combat the virus at both national and global levels. Under Talley’s leadership, USAMRDC saw great success in the areas of diagnostics development, therapeutics research and vaccine production.
The MEDCoE command will be his first permanent party position in the Training and Doctrine Command and Combined Arms Center.
“He knows exactly where we need to take this Army,” Martin said as he introduced Talley to the MEDCoE. “I cannot wait to see where you take this command.”
Talley began his life of service in the Army when he enlisted as a combat medic in 1983, training in the very unit he will now command. In 1989 he earned a green to gold scholarship and was commissioned as a Medical Service Corps Officer. Throughout his career he has served several combat tours and has led troops at every level, in several previous command and key staff assignments.
“Soldiers on the field, you are standing tall and looking good,” Talley began his comments reflecting on his experience as a combat medic trainee, 30 years ago at Delta Company, 232nd Medical Battalion. “I was part of that formation just like you so coming back full circle, making this odyssey military journey, is all the more special.”
Talley classified the pandemic years, not yet over, as the most challenging and consequential time in recent history. “Our competitiveness will be because of our people like the 2,200 Soldiers and Civilians who comprise the Medical Center of Excellence cadre and workforce,” he said.
Tally’s remarks concluded with a direct message to the MEDCoE Soldiers, the command teams, Civilian workforce, and their numerous stakeholders. “The Medical Center of Excellence will remain committed to being the foundation for Army medicine,” Tally said. “Developing leaders and the engine to driving change. Our Army, the Joint Force, and our Nation are depending on us.”