By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cory Asato, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest
PORT HADLOCK, Wash. — Cmdr. Nicholas Vande Griend relieved Cmdr. Michael Yesunas as commanding officer of Naval Magazine (NAVMAG) Indian Island during a change-of-command ceremony, June 11.
More than 60 Sailors, family, friends and members of the local community attended the ceremony held on NAVMAG’s ammunition pier next to USNS Rainier (T-AOE-7).
Navy Band Northwest opened the ceremony with a joint performance of “The National Anthem” alongside Chimacum Elementary School’s 5th -grade choir, leading into the arrival of the official party and Naval Hospital Bremerton’s color guard presenting the colors.
Yesunas entertained the crowd with a few jokes before delivering his last speech as commanding officer of NAVMAG.
“You have taught me how to be a better officer, a better leader and helped to expand my knowledge,” said Yesunas. “Your reputation for being the ‘Pacesetters of the Pacific’ is well deserved, and it has been my pleasure to watch you earn this distinction every day.”
Yesunas took the opportunity to recognize Chief Master-at-Arms Mark Durben and Master-at-Arms 1st class Joe Ramirez, by awarding them with Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medals for their community service throughout the surrounding area and at previous commands.
“Not only have they volunteered all over the world, but locally these men have made a significant impact,” said Yesunas. “Chief Durben works locally with the Boy Scouts and MA1 Ramirez has worked hard to improve the disk golf course at HJ Carroll Park.”
Rear Adm. Jeff Ruth, Commander Navy Region Northwest, served as guest speaker, awarding Yesunas with a Meritorious Service Medal for his accomplishments as the NAVMAG commanding officer.
“Yesunas and the NAVMAG team are always executing the mission flawlessly, supplying the fleet,” said Ruth.
Yesunas offered a warm welcome to Vande Griend before the reading of their orders.
“I will truly miss this community and I’ve never been to a more a beautiful place in the world so thank you to everyone here for your hospitality over the past two-and-a-half years,” said Yesunas. “Nick, as the final part of our turnover, I want to welcome you to your new community.”