For 1st time, 1 woman takes over for another at Navy Region Southeast
By JOE DARASKEVICH | The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville | Published: February 23, 2017
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — A longstanding tradition at Navy Region Southeast featured a new wrinkle Thursday morning at Jacksonville Naval Air Station when a woman relinquished command to another for the first time in the region’s history.
Rear Adm. Mary M. Jackson told the audience she hadn’t accepted the fact that her two and half years in charge of the 18 installations in the region were actually over, but her close relationship with Rear Adm. Babette “Bette” Bolivar eased some of the reluctance to move on.
“Bette, you’re getting the best region around,” Jackson told her replacement as she stood at the podium inside a hangar in front of a decorated audience of military and civilian personnel.
Jackson talked about how much she learned to love the Jacksonville community since she moved to the city with her family to take command of the region in July 2014. Jackson even joked that she wished she didn’t have to leave the area for her new assignment.
“Today came all too fast,” Jackson said.
She said in recent weeks she’s been through four of the five stages of grief when dealing with the fact that she’s moving on.
Jackson will now replace Vice Adm. Dixon R. Smith as commander of Navy Installations Command in Washington, D.C.
Smith was the guest speaker at Thursday’s ceremony.
He talked about how capable Jackson was overseeing 18 installations over the past couple years, and complimented her ability to react quickly and appropriately when times called for a composed leader.
Smith pointed out examples like Hurricane Matthew in the fall when Jackson had to track the storm as it approached several installations from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, up the coast through Mayport and Kings Bay, Ga.
Another example came in July of last year when multiple Marines suffered fatal gunshot wounds in Chattanooga, Tenn. Smith said he was with Jackson in San Diego when word arrived.
Jackson insisted she needed to fly to Tennessee immediately to help coordinate with military and civilian police forces as the situation unfolded, Smith said.
The relationship between Jackson and Smith runs deep, but so does the bond between Jackson and Bolivar.
Bolivar comes to Jacksonville to command the 18 installations in Navy Region Southeast after spending the last two and a half years as commander of Joint Region Marianas.
Her background is in Navy diving, and she is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.