SAN DIEGO – The amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) held a change ofcommand ceremony at the I-Bar on Naval Air Station North Island, November 9.
Capt. David Oden, from Fortville, Ind., relieved Capt. Mark Melson during the ceremony.
The guest speaker was Rear Adm. Sean Buck, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet. Buck said he wanted to honor both Capt. Melson and Capt. Oden for their leadership and warfighting skills.
“A change of command is a significant event,” said Buck. “Not only to revel in a recent homecoming after a successful deployment, but also to take a moment to acknowledge your captain.”
Since assuming command of Makin Island in August 2016, Melson led the ship on a combat deployment to the 3rd, 5th, and 7th Fleet areas of operation.
Melson thanked friends, family, and the crew for their support during his time with Makin Island.
“This ship was my home this past deployment,” said Melson. “As beautiful as she is, she is nothing without her crew. To be your commanding officer has been the most humblingand special honor I have had, and I will never forget you.”
During the ceremony in San Diego, Melson, who will continue his naval service on staff duty for Supreme Allied Commander Europe, was presented with the Legion of Merit for his performance as commanding officer from August 2016 to October 2017.
Oden officially assumed the title and responsibilities as Makin Island’s commanding officer after orders were read and salutes rendered.
Oden served as Makin Island’s executive officer from August 2016 to October 2017. Previous tours include USS Fort Fisher (LSD 40), USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Benfold (DDG 65), and the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center.
“This crew has proved itself time and time again through every evolution,” said Oden. “The level of professionalism and dedication I witnessed on deployment was truly secondto none. I look forward to all of us carrying on Makin Island’s outstanding waterfront reputation.
”Makin Island is currently conducting a depot-level planned maintenance availability.