JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (HawaiiNewsNow) - By: Victoria Cuba
The ringing of a bell and the blow of a whistle sounded the departure and the coming of leadership during a Change of Command ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Friday.
Rear Admiral John Fuller assumed command of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific from Rear Adm. Richard Williams Jr. During the ceremony, Rear Adm. Williams was given a flag from his petty officers as a parting gift. Both of the men were given a maile lei.
The new commander will now oversee 11 surface ships in Hawaii and lead Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and Kauai's Pacific Missile Range Facility.
"It's clear he's the right guy for the challenges ahead," said Vice Adm. Kenneth Floyd, Commander of the U.S. 3rd Fleet.
Before being stationed in Hawaii, Rear Adm. Fuller served as deputy of littoral combat ships, the newest class of warships, in Washington DC.
"This is an opportunity, professionally, to lead sailors and work with civilians and help the nation," Rear Adm. Fuller said. "But personally, it's a chance to spend time with my family and the great community. I get to learn ohana and teach that to my kids."
Being the son of a retired army colonel, he moved from place to place and never really had a somewhere to call home.
"But I'm here now," Rear Adm. Fuller said. "I call Hawaii home."
He is sure to pick up from where the last commander left off, Vice Adm. Floyd said.
Although he is up to the challenge, Rear Adm. Fuller has big shoes to fill.
"The list of accomplishments has been long and wide under Rick Williams," said Vice Adm. Dixon Smith, Commander of the Navy Installations.
During his time, Rear Adm. Williams reduced energy consumption to 24 percent. He also created a multi-warfare complex on Ford Island, played a key role during the last year's RIMPAC exercises, built solid relationships with the schools around the navy and helped incoming families transition into being stationed in the islands.
"Rick has not only demonstrated excellence, he's brought excellence out of others," Vice Adm. Floyd said. "And that's the sure sign of a true leader."
Command Master Chief John Ullery said that Rear Adm. Williams was one of the best commanders he's worked with in the past two years.
"It has been an honor and a privilege," Command Master Chief Ullery said. "And I am excited to be working for Admiral Fuller as well."
Vice Adm. Floyd said that both men and their families have been defending freedom for decades. And they will continue to do so in the future.
"Not just for themselves, but for others as well," he said.
After his relief as commander, Rear Adm. Williams will be stationed in San Diego to train carrier strike groups before deployment.
"Aloha sometimes means goodbye," he said. "But today, it means, 'Until we meet again.'"