YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — At a ceremony held Tuesday under a bright blue sky, Rear Adm. Fred Byus became commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea.

Byus, 49, relieves Rear Adm. Daniel S. Mastagni, a U.S. Naval Reserve officer who held the post only 2½ months. Mastagni served as interim commander after Rear Adm. Gary R. Jones departed early to become commander of Amphibious Group 1 on Okinawa.

Mastagni has been named deputy commander of Fleet Air Force Mediterranean in Naples, Italy, and will assume command of Naval Reserve Readiness Command South in Fort Worth, Texas, in June 2004.

Gen. Leon J. LaPorte, U.S. Forces Korea commander, said despite Mastagni’s short tenure, he guided the Navy through the Ulchi Focus Lens computer exercise while commanding 500 personnel. LaPorte told Mastagni he “instilled a sense of absolute operational readiness,” adding, “Your accomplishments as a leader, a mentor, a sailor and a patriot are superb.”

Byus graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1976 with a degree in marine engineering. He also has a master’s degree in engineering management from George Washington University and is a graduate of the National Security Management course at Syracuse University.

Byus has served on four submarines and was commanding officer of the USS Tautog from May 1993 to November 1995. Most recently, he was 7th Fleet chief of staff from September 2002 to August 2003 and was promoted to rear admiral this month.

Byus is married to Kathryn Jean Nielsen Byus of Salt Lake City, Utah. The couple has four children.

“This can be a time of unparalleled positive change,” Byus said. “It is a thrill to be in Korea.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now