FORT NOVOSEL, Ala. -- The Soldiers, civilian employees and families of the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory welcomed their new commander and bid farewell to the outgoing commander during a change of command ceremony June 29 in the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.
Col. Matthew Hoefer assumed command of USAARL from Col. Michael Tarpey as he accepted the unit colors from Brig. Gen. Edward “Ned” Bailey, U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command commanding general, Fort Detrick, Maryland, at the ceremony.
Hoefer comes to Fort Novosel after serving as the deputy commanding officer at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Bailey said that he is certain the right person was selected to take USAARL into the future and build on its previous success.
“He did some research time at the (Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute), so he has a little understanding of what research entails,” the general said. “He’s also been a command surgeon at a four-star level command – Army Materiel Command – so he has an understanding of the development process and what it takes to get materiel to the Soldier. And he’s spent a lot of time in the aerospace community.
“Matt, you have my full trust and confidence to lead this great organization,” Bailey added. “Congratulations to you and your family.”
Hoefer thanked the general for his support, and also thanked Tarpey for a warm welcome and smooth transition to USAARL. In addition, he thanked his family and friends for their support.
“Although I’ve never been assigned to Fort Novosel, I’ve been here many times as a flight surgeon … so it feels a little bit like a homecoming,” Hoefer said. “That might be because my mom was born in the forest across the street from the laboratory. Back then it was a hospital, but now, mom, the trees are really tall, so sorry about that.
“To my new teammates, I’m humbled to be a part of the great work you do for the Army,” he added. “Our mission is important and storied, as evidenced by the 60th anniversary you celebrated last winter. Every day of the past two weeks, I’ve been impressed by your professionalism and dedication to what we do. Innovation has always been the path to victory. I know that you all understand that and the role that USAARL will continue to play. I’m excited to be a small part of it and look forward to getting started.”
Bailey also spoke about Tarpey’s time in command at USAARL and offered him best wishes as he moves on to become the command surgeon at U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa.
“We really look for O-6 commanders to be focusing on the future and upwards – influencing the Army enterprise – and that’s what Mike did here,” the general said. “He’s been a staunch advocate for USAARL, created opportunities for the lab to showcase its technologies whenever possible and he led the team as it participated in Project Convergence 22, which is really the Army’s showcase now for new ideas and new kit that will be fielded to the force. Great job doing that!”
Bailey also cited Tarpey’s leadership with organizing the USAARL 60th anniversary commemoration, and dedicating the lab’s building on the same day, and completing testing to update seat standards in rotary wing aircraft.
“He also prioritized STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and delivered outreach via multiple pipelines, and these efforts contributed to recruitment and retainment, two things that are vital to the Army right now,” he said.
Tarpey thanked Maj. Gen. Michael C. McCurry, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Novosel commanding general, and the entire Fort Novosel team for their support during his tenure at USAARL. He also thanked everyone at USAARL for their tireless efforts in making his time in command a success, and also his family.
“USAARL is in many ways a hidden gem, and it’s unfortunate that the scientists here often work behind the scenes,” the outgoing commander said. “But their innovative thinking saves countless lives, and directly increases the performance and the lethality of our Soldiers and our aviators. We’ve done as much as possible over the past two years to bring that message to the rest of the Army and to the joint force. Thank God for this privilege of a lifetime to lead this storied U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Lab.”