Adm. Charles W. Ray relieved Adm. Charles D. Michel as vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard by during a military change-of-watch ceremony Thursday, May 24, 2018, at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters in D.C.
Immediately following the change-of-watch, the 25th Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul F. Zukunft presented the Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal to Michel, who retired from the Coast Guard after 33 years of service to the nation.
“The Coast Guard has given me everything I wanted and more: a world-class education, a profession dedicated to providing salvation to those in peril at sea, patient leadership that had faith in me, and a group of friends and colleagues that have lived our core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty,” said Michel. “Thank you, Admiral Zukunft, for placing your trust and confidence in me.”
Michel became the 30th vice commandant in August 2015. Then in May 2016, he became the first Coast Guard four-star vice commandant and first four-star judge advocate in the armed services. Michel’s leadership and vision were instrumental in building advocacy for the modernization and acquisition program, and he championed the growth and advancement within the Coast Guard cyber program. Additionally, Michel worked diligently with Congress and the administration to achieve funding for delivery of the national security cutter program of record, the acquisition of new fast response cutters, funding for the offshore patrol cutter, and necessary funding to commence acquisition of the nation’s first new polar icebreaker in more than 50 years.
Ray recently served as the deputy commandant of operations where he led the development of Coast Guard operational strategy, policy, guidance and resources to address Coast Guard and national priorities.
“To the men and women of the Coast Guard, you are the world’s greatest Coast Guard, and I am truly humbled and honored to serve as your 31st vice commandant,” said Ray. “I will dedicate myself to work for you and alongside you to ensure that we are ready to answer the call when our nation needs us.”
A change-of-command is a time-honored ceremony that signifies the absolute transfer of responsibility, authority and accountability from one person to another.