USA: OTC Holds Change of Command Ceremony
A change of command ceremony was held for Officer Training Command (OTC) in the Captain Howard N. Kay Hall at Naval Station Newport, May 12.
In a traditional naval ceremony, Capt. Kevin McGowan relieved Capt. Vernon Kemper as commanding officer of OTC. The acting commander of Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), Capt. Bob Fink, was the keynote speaker at the ceremony.
Fink applauded Kemper’s work with the more than 6,000 new officers OTC produced during his tenure.
“Thank you for all you’ve done to pave the way for so many of our future leaders” said Fink, who also addressed the many officer candidates in attendance. “Maybe one day you will follow in Capt. Kemper’s footsteps and be the commanding officer of this incredible command.”
Fink also read a letter from Rear Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne, former commander of NSTC and current commander, Carrier Strike Group Eleven.
“Your tour, in command of Officer Training Command, can only be described as brilliant. Unleashing your full potential, you masterfully led your 125 high-performing teammates on a journey of excellence in every area of officer accession training,” said Mewbourne.
Additionally, Fink formally recognized Kemper’s contributions during his tour of duty with an end-of-tour Legion of Merit award for his many accomplishments over the last two years.
Under Kemper’s leadership, OTC saw wide ranging change, including the development and piloting of new curriculum for three of the five schoolhouses at OTC. Kemper also directed a comprehensive overhaul of the safety program at the command. It was a measure so successful that it was adopted by the rest of the NSTC domain, keeping thousands of officer candidates and midshipmen safer on a daily basis.
Kemper then addressed the staff and students of OTC for the last time as their commanding officer.
Kemper, an OCS graduate himself, said he was very impressed and proud of the work done at OTC, citing the 12-week transformation of candidates from civilians and enlisted personnel to Naval officers as a “process that happens so rapidly and with such life-changing consequences that I think it is rightly described as a miracle.”
Kemper gave much of the credit for this transformation to his staff of Recruit Division Commanders (RDCs), Marine Corps Drill Instructors (DIs) and Class Officers.
“Throughout this tour I’ve been blessed with a fantastic crew” said Kemper. He added that his tour was intensely personal and told the students assembled from all of the OTC schoolhouses, “we put a lot of effort into what we do, and you will too when you’re up here one day.”
McGowan stressed the great import of the task he is about to undertake in his speech.
“At this crucial time, I can think of no task of greater importance to the health of our service than the formation of future leaders with fundamentally strong moral character. I am truly thankful to be blessed with the opportunity to make a difference in this monumental endeavor,” he said.
McGowan arrives at OTC after completing a tour as a military professor in the National Security Affairs Department of the Naval War College at Naval Station Newport, R. I., teaching Leadership in the National Security Decision Making, and Theater Security Decision Making courses and the Naval Staff College’s international short course.
McGowan, a native of Erie, Pa., graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. His assignments have included flying the U.S. Navy’s P-3 Orion as a part of Patrol Squadrons (VP) 11 and 30, assistant navigator aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), a department head tour with Patrol Squadron (VP) 26, Patrol Squadron Air Combat Placement Officer (PERS-43) in Millington, Tenn., and tours as executive officer and then commanding officer of the Red Lancers of Patrol Squadron (VP) 10.
Following his command tour, he reported in 2009 to the Commander of U.S. Navy Central Command/Commander U. S. 5th Fleet in Manama, Bahrain, in Plans and Policy (N5) as Director of Strategy and Theater Security Cooperation.
Kemper will remain in the New England area, as he moves on to assume command of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) unit supporting the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and Yale University in New Haven, Conn.
OTC is overseen by the Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill. NSTC manages all initial Navy officer and enlisted accessions training except for the U.S. Naval Academy.
Press Release, May 14, 2014; Image: US Navy