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NAPLES, Italy — Borrowing words from the nation’s 35th president, Rear Adm. Carl “Van” Mauney will look back on his naval career with pride and satisfaction, he said Friday as he bid farewell to the Italian home he has grown to love.

At his change-of-command ceremony, Mauney echoed this sentiment once expressed by President Kennedy: “Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think I can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, ‘I served in the United States Navy.’”

Though his naval career is not yet over, Mauney on Friday turned over command of Submarines, Allied Naval Forces South, and Submarine Group 8, to Rear Adm. Jeffery Fowler, who had served as the Navy’s top recruiter as the commander of Navy Recruiting Command in Tennessee.

Mauney returns to the States as director of Submarine Warfare Division N77 for the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C.

Italian Vice Adm. Roberto Cesaretti, commander of Allied Maritime Component Command Naples, praised Mauney for his time in Italy, pointing out that his 20-month tenure here included conducting missions and operations with 22 submarines from eight NATO countries. It also included strengthening the antiterrorism effort Operation Active Endeavor, launched in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and which targets terrorists, human traffickers, and drug and weapons smugglers in the Mediterranean.

Friday’s speakers tried to keep the ceremony short, as the sweltering humidity of a Mediterranean summer made the outdoor observance a bit uncomfortable, even if held pier side on the island of Nisida in the Gulf of Pozzuoli.

And they kept the time-honored, ritual-laden naval observance lighthearted with jokes and quips.

“What is untraditional is that both of us are speaking on behalf of submariners — which we are not,” Vice Adm. John “Boomer” Stufflebeem, a former fighter pilot, said of himself and Cesaretti, also a former pilot. “Some would say a coup has been exercised.”

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