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Navy Region Europe Changes Command

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080331-14
Release Date: 3/31/2008 1:23:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eddie Harrison, Fleet Public Affairs Center Det. Europe

NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- Commander, Navy Region Europe (CNRE) and Commander, Maritime Air Naples held a change of command ceremony at Naples Support Activity (NSA) Naples at Capodichino on March 31.

Rear Adm. David J. Mercer relieved Rear Adm. Michael R. Groothousen.

Approximately 120 guests attended the outdoor ceremony including distinguished visitors from NATO, U.S. and Italian government officials, including Naples Consul General J. Patrick Truhn, and representatives from the American Embassy in Rome. Keynote speakers included Vice Adm. Robert T. Conway, Jr., commander, Navy Installations Command and Vice Adm. Roberto Cesaretti, Italian Navy commander, Maritime Component Command, Naples.

During the ceremony, Conway expressed his gratitude for the hard work Groothousen and his region team put forth.

"During his tenure, he was a change agent during a period of much transition," said Conway. "He never lost sight of the fundamental mission to provide quality of service and life to our Sailors and their families."

When Groothousen took the podium, he noted, "When I took command I mentioned we [CNRE staff] would sail hard and fast. In September 2007, we disestablished our headquarters in London and in October 2007, USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) returned to the United States as part of the preparations for closure of La Maddalena."

Groothousen went on to explain that although the world "has changed – not as completely as we would like and not so much that it is not still a dangerous place …" it is critical to consider the need to accommodate the resources that are available to the United States as it competes with other national demands.

Groothousen thanked his CNRE staff and team comprised of host nation employees, U.S. employees and military members alike.

"If I have earned success and even standing, then I will have to say that it is down to every Sailor and civilian who has given me more than I could have asked for in terms of sacrifice and duty."

Groothousen concluded his speech by welcoming the new CNRE admiral.

"No commander who believes he has worked hard and in good faith would not wish that his successor be someone very capable," Groothousen commented. "He would believe him to have the capability and the promise to deliver outstanding results and outstanding service. Rear Adm. Mercer is such a person."

Mercer, a 1978 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and designated naval aviator in 1980, pledged to both his NATO and Navy region team continued operational excellence.

Addressing Conway, Mercer stated, "I pledge our full support in your efforts to align and operationalize Navy installations worldwide. We will continue to work for increased support to our Sailors, their families, and our civilian workforce."

Unique to the day's event was the singing by guests and the Navy band vocalist to the tune of Happy Birthday played by the Navy band to Mercer's son, who was celebrating his first birthday.

Navy Region Europe is comprised of four enduring bases in the European theater including Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy; Naval Air Station Rota, Spain; Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, Italy; and Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Crete, Greece. Commander, Navy Region Europe supports commander, Naval Forces Europe by providing effective and efficient shore services to U.S. and allied forces within the European theater supporting operations in Europe and Africa.

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