Navy amphibious force welcomes new commander

From left to right, Rear Adm. Gary R. Jones, Rear Adm. Frederic R. Ruehe and Vice Adm. Robert F. Willard, commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, salute during the playing of the National Anthem at the change of command ceremony.


By GREG TYLER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 28, 2003

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Rear Adm. Frederic R. Ruehe was relieved Friday by Rear Adm. Gary R. Jones as commander of the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force during a change-of-command ceremony in the Community and Education Center auditorium.

Ruehe moves from Commander Amphibious Force 7th Fleet/Task Force-76/Amphibious Group 1 (PHIBGRU 1) to take over as Commander, Naval Forces Japan, replacing the retiring Rear Adm. Robert C. Chaplin.

Jones assumes leadership of PHIBGRU 1 after serving in South Korea, where he was Commander, Naval Forces Korea.

Vice Adm. Robert F. Willard, the 7th Fleet commander, attended the ceremony.

Jones, a naval aviator with more than 4,000 flight hours, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1975 with a mechanical engineering degree. He also earned a master’s degree in systems management from the University of Southern California and is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College.

His personal awards include the Legion of Merit with Gold Stars, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Stars, Navy Commendation Medal with Gold Stars, Navy Achievement Medal and various unit awards and service ribbons.

Ruehe was commissioned in 1973 after attending the University of Illinois. His first assignment was aboard the USS Henry B. Wilson, where he served as the ship’s damage-control assistant. He came to Sasebo Naval Base for the first time in 1995 as the USS Belleau Wood’s executive officer and in 1996 he became commanding officer.

Before returning to Japan in 2002 as the amphibious forces commander, he was Commander, Navy Region Southwest. Ruehe’s personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit (two awards), the Meritorious Service Medal (five awards) and the Navy Commendation Medal.

Ships assigned to PHIBGRU 1 include the USS Essex, USS Fort McHenry, USS Harpers Ferry, USS Juneau, USS Safeguard, USS Patriot and USS Guardian. All operate from Sasebo Naval Base.

PHIBGRU 1 headquarters is at White Beach Naval Facility on Okinawa, with additional command staff operating in Sasebo.