Coast Guard Sector San Juan received a new commander Wednesday who will be responsible for Coast Guard forces in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as Coast Guard operations in the Eastern Caribbean.
Rear Adm. Eric C. Jones, Coast Guard’s Seventh District commander, presided over the change of command ceremony, where Capt. Gregory H. Magee relieved Capt. Eric P. King as the Commander of Sector San Juan.
“I cannot think of a better place and time to serve our nation,” said Capt. Gregory H. Magee, Sector San Juan incoming commander. “Almost 30 years ago, my father served as the Commander of Coast Guard Greater Antilles Section, known today as Sector San Juan. It is an honor to have the opportunity to follow his footsteps. Having served the last two years as the deputy of this outstanding Sector, I look forward to leading our Coast Guard women and men as we continue to build new relationships, strengthen existing partnerships, maximize our operational readiness, and safeguard our nation’s southernmost maritime border.”
During the ceremony, Capt. Eric P. King was recognized with the Legion of Merit for his accomplishments during his three-year command. In response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, King led 783 Coast Guard responders in re-opening 17 commercial ports in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands necessary for humanitarian relief efforts. He coordinated the interagency cleanup and removal of 856 hurricane impacted vessels and 35,000 gallons of pollution.
Under Capt. King’s leadership, Sector San Juan saved 1,183 lives and $38 million in property. Coast Guard crews also interdicted 2,042 illegal migrants and seized approximately 22,508 kilograms in cocaine with an estimated wholesale value of $852 million.
“This has been the most challenging and rewarding assignment in my Coast Guard career,” said King. “Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will forever hold a special place in my heart as will the men and women of Sector San Juan, with whom I’ve had the honor and privilege of serving with during one of the toughest periods in the history of both territories. This is a sad time for my family, and me since for the last three years we have called la “Isla del Encanto” our home. We look forward to returning to enjoy these beautiful islands and visit good friends.”
King is now headed to Washington, D.C., where he will assume responsibilities as Chief of the U.S. Coast Guard’s FORCECOM Training Division to oversee world-wide training and education for the service.
The change of command ceremony is a time-honored event preserved by the rich heritage of naval tradition. It is a custom that is formal, and following military protocol, is designed to strengthen the respect for the continuity of command that is vital to any military organization. The culmination of the ceremony is reached when both officers read their orders, face one another, salute, and transfer responsibility of command. This provides the entire command with the knowledge and the opportunity to witness the peaceful transition of command.