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20/10/2009: Ambassador Willy Gaa Conveys Felicitations to New US PACOM Commander Robert Willard at Change of Command Ceremony

20 October 2009. Philippine Ambassador to the US, H.E.  Willy C. Gaa represented the Secretary of Foreign Affairs at the Change of Command ceremony on 19 October 2009 at the US PACOM Headquarters, Camp Smith, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Admiral Timothy J. Keating turned over to Admiral Robert Willard the command of the US PACOM, the largest of the six commands of the US military covering the entire Asia Pacific region, spanning from the Indian-Pakistani border to the Western coast of the United States and its unique responsibility in Asia Pacific affairs, including the extension of humanitarian and relief efforts, most recently in the Philippines, Indonesia and American Samoa.

Adm. Robert Willard said he was honored to take the helm after previously commanding the US Pacific Fleet.  Adm. Willard is a 1973 U.S. Naval Academy graduate and F-14 aviator who was Executive Operations Officer of Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN). He also commanded the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

Leading the guests at the Ceremony were US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. Also attending the event were Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, members of the Consular Corps, Hawaii State Legislators, former US PACOM Commanders, US active and retired military officials, their families and friends.  Amb. Gaa sat at the front row together with Governor Lingle, Mrs. Mullen, Mrs. Willard and Mrs. Keating.

Defense Secretary Gates expressed his appreciation to Admiral Keating for his outstanding leadership at PACOM for 2 ½ years and for his ‘stellar” 42 year navy career. He said he was confident that the torch of command from Admiral Keating to Admiral Willard was passed on from one great leader to another.

Ambassador Gaa extended Secretary Romulo’s felicitations to Admiral Willard who assured him of PACOM’s continuous cooperation with the Philippines. Consul Lourdes Tabamo, Consul Paul Cortes, and Philippine PACOM Liaison Officer Capt. Severino David accompanied Ambassador Gaa at the ceremony.   END.

Press Release from Philippine Consulate General - Honolulu, Hawaii