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44th Medical Brigade welcoming new leaders at Fort Bragg

The 44th Medical Brigade will welcome new leaders during a ceremony on Fort Bragg today.

The brigade will welcome a new commander and a new command sergeant major in a rare dual ceremony. Typically, such changes are staggered.

In the ceremony at Fort Bragg's Main Post Parade Field, Col. Jeffrey Johnson will relinquish command to Col. Michael Talley and Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Maldonado will relinquish responsibility for the welfare of the enlisted ranks to Command Sgt. Maj. Roger Velarde.

Maj. Gen. Clarence K.K. Chinn, Task Force Bragg commander, will oversee the ceremony.

Talley was most recently the assistant deputy chief of staff G-3/5/7 in the Office of the Surgeon General and U.S. Army Medical Command.

He previously served with the 7th Special Forces Group, 18th Airborne Corps and other Fort Bragg units, deploying to Iraq with the 261st Medical Battalion.

Velarde was most recently the command sergeant major for Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Texas.

He previously served with the 18th Airborne Corps.

The 44th Medical Brigade, which provides health care and medical services to Fort Bragg units, is the "largest and most diverse medical brigade in today's Army," according to officials.

The brigade has deployed in support of Afghanistan in recent years and is comprised of three combat support hospitals, a medical laboratory, a multifunctional medical battalion, five forward surgical teams and several medical detachments and dental companies spread across the eastern United States.

Once relinquishing command, Johnson will become director of health and wellness at the Defense Health Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia.

Johnson has served with several current or former Fort Bragg units, including the 82nd Airborne Division, 18th Airborne Corps, 7th Special Forces Group and Womack Army Medical Center.

Maldonado, who has served with the 82nd Airborne Division and other Fort Bragg units, will retire, officials said, ending a 27-year Army career.

brooksd@fayobserver.com

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