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Changes at the top for Lewis-McChord Air Force and medical units

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on May 9, 2011 at 11:23 am |
May 9, 2011 1:19 pm

Summer will bring a few new commanders to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates today announced that the top medical officer stationed at the base would move on to the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Maj. Gen. Philip Volpe currently leads the Western Region Army Medical Command, which oversees Army hospitals in 20 states. Its headquarters is at Lewis-McChord. Volpe has been stationed there since late 2009.

Volpe is to be succeeded by Brig. Gen. Richard W. Thomas, the Army’s assistant surgeon general for force projection. Thomas has served at Fort Lewis in the past as the commander of the 47th Combat Support Hospital, the assistant chief for head and neck surgery at Madigan Army Medical Center and as Madigan’s staff surgeon.

A spokeswoman for the Western Region Medical Command said the Army has not set a date for the handover, though it likely will take place in the fall.

Elsewhere around the base, the 446th Reserve Airlift Wing and the Warrior Transition Battalion are in line for new commanders.

446th Commander Col. William Flanigan is due to rotate out to a new assignment in Georgia. He’s been stationed at McChord Air Field since 2007. I touched base with him briefly Saturday while he waited to pick up Jay Leno for a reception that preceded Leno’s performance that night. I wasn’t taking notes, but Flanigan had a great deal of praise for the McChord-based reservists he’s led for the past four years. His successor has not been announced.

Lt. Col. Danny Dudek, commander of the base’s Warrior Transition Battalion, also is expected to move on to a new assignment in coming months. He’s a wounded warrior himself, having survived a 2007 attack in Iraq that left his feet paralyzed.

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