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Naval Hospital command change bittersweet for Roberts

The weather was not too favorable in the minds of many gathered at the change of command ceremony at Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) Wednesday afternoon but for incoming commanding officer Capt. Catherine Wilson, it was a blessing in disguise.

Wilson comes to NHB from a deployment in Kuwait and said the rain made her feel comfortable, spending much of her time overseas in a tent in the rain.

“Coming to Bremerton is like coming home,” Wilson said.

She worked with many of the NHB staff previously.

“They have an outstanding facility with outstanding family practice programs,” she said.

Wilson said her deployment experience was extremely vital in preparing her to take over NHB.

“Deployment pulls the whole military experience together. It is a distinct honor and privilege to serve,” Wilson said. “It was the highlight of my 27-year Navy career. It is one team and one fight. Nobody asks ‘What service are you?’ when you’re injured.”

Guest speaker Vice Adm. Donald Arthur, Surgeon General of the Navy, said command is an excellent experience for anyone.

“The weight of command is something extraordinary,” Arthur said. “This is an opportunity to be a leader ... and a chance to shine.”

Capt. William Roberts, who Wilson relieved at the ceremony, was emotional about his experience in Bremerton of almost three years.

“My fervent hope is you will have as wonderful an experience here as I have,” Roberts told Wilson. “I can’t imagine a community more supportive of the Navy than that in the Puget Sound area. Patricia (his wife) and I have made life-long friends.”

Roberts leaves Bremerton for Washington, D.C. where he will assume the role of deputy director of medical planning and policy for the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon.

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