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    USS Antietam holds Change of Command Ceremony in Vietnam

    USS Antietam (CG 54) Change of Command

    Photo By Petty Officer 1st Class Ryre Arciaga | 230625-N-KW492-0428 DA NANG, VIETNAM (June 25, 2023) Sailors salute Commanding Officer...... read more read more

    DA NANG, Vietnam — Capt. Victor Garza relieved Capt. Warren Smith as commanding officer of the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54), during a ceremony aboard the ship pierside in Da Nang, Vietnam, June 25, 2023.

    Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Trager, executive officer of the Antietam, presided over the ceremony and Tressa Smith, Capt. Smith’s wife, presented the outgoing commanding officer with the Legion of Merit Medal.

    Smith, a native of Upland, California, previously served as Surface Warfare Liaison in the Navy’s Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) prior to taking command of Antietam in 2021. During his speech to the crew he reflected on his time onboard and commended the crew for all of their hard work and achievements.

    “The dedication and perseverance of the Antietam crew is unsurpassed,” said Smith. “From the maintenance period to a compressed training phase then rolling straight into patrol as the primary air defense for the Ronald Reagan Strike Group, this crew never missed a beat."

    During Smith’s tenure as commanding officer, USS Antietam completed the 2022 patrol cycle conducting underway operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific, supporting not only Carrier Strike Group 5 and its Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), but also the America-class amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA 7) and the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). It also conducted operations and exercises alongside both the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and Republic of Korea navy, enhancing interoperability with American allies.

    Garza, a Gilroy, California native, graduated in 1997 with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California Los Angeles. He received his commission through Officer Candidate School in 1999. He also earned a master’s in Engineering Management from Old Dominion University. Prior to receiving orders to Antietam, Garza previously served as commanding officer of the cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63).

    “I want to first and foremost thank all of you for the warm welcome that you have afforded me,” said Garza upon assuming command. “Capt. Smith, it is always an honor to relieve someone with such a footprint that you left here on Antietam. I look forward to doing my best and taking the ball further down the field with all of the work that you have done.”

    Garza is the 21st commanding officer of the USS Antietam (CG 54).

    USS Antietam is named after the American Civil War battle fought along Antietam Creek near the town of Sharpsburg in northwestern Maryland. Fought on Sept. 17, 1862, it is renowned as the bloodiest single day in American military history. Though the battle ended in a tactical draw, it was a clear operational and strategic victory for the Union. The Confederate's first attempt to invade the North was a failure, yet the most important outcome happened five days after the battle. President Lincoln signed the preliminary copy of the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, immediately freeing all slaves held within the states in rebellion. It was the first U.S. government document which proclaimed slavery was wrong and gave direction to eliminate it. True equal opportunity is a cornerstone of our military success whose roots run through the Battle of Antietam.

    Antietam is assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 70, and is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan to support the security of the U.S. and its Allies in the Indo-Pacific.



    Date Taken: 06.25.2023
    Date Posted: 06.25.2023 20:09
    Story ID: 447925
    Location: DA NANG, VN

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