Virtual change of command ceremony celebrates leaders’ accomplishments from afar

By Natalie Skelton DLA Aviation Public Affairs

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Navy Capt. Ernan Obellos relinquished command of Defense Logistics Agency Aviation – San Diego to Navy Cmdr. Maxine Gardner in a virtual change of command ceremony May 27 on Naval Base Coronado. 
DLA Aviation Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. David Sanford, who is currently on a special assignment as Deputy of the COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington, D.C., officiated the ceremony virtually from his office there.

COVID-19 restrictions limited attendance to immediate family, ceremony staff and key personnel.

“I regret that we all are not able to come together in one place to honor these two officers as they start new chapters in their lives,” Sanford said. “Because of COVID-19, we are embarking on an unprecedented journey with this event, and I appreciate you joining us for this occasion. As leaders, our first thought must always be for the safety of our people and their families.”

Sanford added, “I’m thankful the technology exists that allows us to hold this ceremony virtually and stream it for those who can’t be in San Diego this morning.”

Sanford opened with reflections on DLA Aviation’s purpose and goals.

He reaffirmed DLA’s reason for being and how the DLA Aviation team makes it possible to achieve its core purpose and number one goal—Warfighter First.

“Warfighter support is our priority and that will never change,” Sanford said. “While geographically separated from our headquarters in Richmond, never forget, you are critical to aviation readiness. Your successes are our successes. We are committed to providing the support you need to succeed.”

Sanford then turned his attention to the incoming and outgoing Navy leaders. His remarks highlighted the accomplishments of both commanders and recognized their efforts in improving operations within their respective commands.

“Capt. Obellos has gifted us with incredible leadership built on a career filled with accomplishments,” he said. “As the most senior and most visible ISA [industrial support activity] commander, Capt. Obellos has served as DLA’s global face to Naval Aviation. Both admirals and general officers relied on him for his expertise in operational and industrial supply and logistics, and in simply getting the job done.”

Virtual change of command ceremony celebrates leaders’ accomplishments from afar
Terry Obellos presents her husband, Navy Capt. Ernan Obellos, outgoing commander of Defense Logistics Agency Aviation-San Diego, with the Defense Meritorious Service Medal for his many achievements, along with the DLA Aviation plaque, during a virtual change of command ceremony held at Naval Base Coronado, San Diego, California, May 27, 2020. (Photo by Christopher Nette)
Virtual change of command ceremony celebrates leaders’ accomplishments from afar
Virtual change of command ceremony celebrates leaders’ accomplishments from afar
Terry Obellos presents her husband, Navy Capt. Ernan Obellos, outgoing commander of Defense Logistics Agency Aviation-San Diego, with the Defense Meritorious Service Medal for his many achievements, along with the DLA Aviation plaque, during a virtual change of command ceremony held at Naval Base Coronado, San Diego, California, May 27, 2020. (Photo by Christopher Nette)
Photo By: Christopher Nette
VIRIN: 200527-N-XC190-1026

Sanford listed a number of accomplishments under Obellos’s command and praised his leadership approach for helping foster growth and excellence at DLA Aviation-San Diego.

“Capt. Obellos has achieved both great strides as a leader and fostered an environment of achievement among his staff, encouraging and mentoring them to develop as leaders in their own right,” he said.

During the virtual ceremony, Obellos was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal for his many achievements, along with the DLA Aviation plaque, presented by his wife, Terry.

Sanford then introduced Gardner and provided a brief overview of the commander’s work to date.

Cmdr. Gardner previously served as the director of the P-8A Poseidon and P-3 Orion Integrated Weapon Support Team at Naval Supply Systems Support in Philadelphia. As director, she was responsible for weapons systems support, financial requirements planning, and worldwide inventory control for three diverse Navy aircraft and their associated weapons systems.

As a primary logistics manager, Cmdr. Gardner’s management of more than 8,000 aviation components and consumables, and the administration of nearly $900 million in Navy funds and procurement obligations led to robust material readiness for the support of multiple missions.

“Commander Gardner brings a wealth of knowledge to the position. She has had the right experiences to lead this complex team and prepared herself well for this tremendous responsibility and opportunity,” Sanford said.

Directing his final remarks to Gardner, he said, “Maxine, as I welcome you into the leadership of DLA Aviation-San Diego, you know that a key leadership skill is relationship building. The pride this organization feels will depend on your support and leadership. I challenge you to continue the employee - and customer-center culture that Capt. Obellos started.”