COL Enrique (Rick) Ortiz Jr.
Greetings DUSTOFF Family! This article marks a bittersweet milestone – this will be my last DUSTOFFer article as the 67J Consultant. My greatest reflection is that it has truly been a distinct honor to serve our 67J Dustoff community over the last four years. What I learned in my tenure is that advocating for our people and mission is a humbling privilege.
Over the past four years, the consultant’s office proved very successful in numerous endeavors and that credit squarely belongs to Dave Zimmerman, Steve Barnes, Mike Breslin, Steve Schmidt, Mike Crivello, Tom Dolce, Sam Diehl and Taylor Ridge. They did a phenomenal job in working challenges and communicating to you all the great contributions and achievements our exceptional community was doing routinely. Where I fell short in many areas, they rose to the occasion every time. Thank you, Team!
I also want to personally and publicly thank Dan Gower for being a force for ensuring that we stayed tied, committed and contributing to all our association efforts and initiatives. I know I fell short here as well, but Dan provided needed leadership so that we stayed relevant. Thanks Dan!
The most exciting news that I have today is to announce that The Surgeon General selected COL Dave Zimmerman to assume responsibilities as Consultant on 1 December. Dave is a superior leader and friend who has already done immense work behind the scene for our community. I am confident that the 67J consultancy is in exponentially better hands.
I’d like to use this update to provide some details on our most recent talent management initiative regarding selection for MEDEVAC Command. Published last month, HQDA EXORD 145-19 FRAGO 2 excludes MEDEVAC Commands from the Army’s online Assignment Interactive Module (AIM) marketplace. This exception will allow the 67J Branch Manager at Human Resources Command to manage our talent using a panel process, rather than fully integrating to the market selection process which presented more risk than reward for our community. We will continue to evaluate this process as the Army Talent Alignment Program matures, but I believe this is an important win for our community. As you are well aware, MEDEVAC Commands are tactical formations with strategic impact, and the panel process ensures we slate our very best officers for command.
As we’ve worked to optimize our Command selection and slating process for our Majors, senior 67Js continue to excel across the Army Medical Department. Please join me in congratulating the officers below on their noteworthy achievements:
2022 Senior Nominative Command: COL Ed Mandril and COL Buddy Meador
2022 O6 CSL Command: COL Shane Mendenhall
Senior Service College: COL Merbin Carratini and COL Nate Forrester; they are slated for O6 command in summer 2021 and 2022 respectively.
MEDEVAC Command: CPT/P Thomas Barth, USAAAD, Fort Benning, GA; MAJ Christopher DiMaio USAAAD, Fort Polk, LA; CPT/P Taylor Ridge, C/3-25, Wheeler AAF; CPT/P Tyler Smith, C/3-10 GSAB, Fort Drum, NY; MAJ Cody Sneed, C/2-3 GSAB, Hunter AAF; CPT(P) Glenn Thomas, C/1-214 GSAB, Grafenwoeher, GE; MAJ Alexandra Vane, C/3-82 GSAB, Fort Bragg, NC; MAJ Armando Valencia, C/2-227 GSAB, Fort Hood, TX; CPT Jillian O’Hara, USAAAD, Honduras.
Principal ILE Selection: MAJ Amanda Charlton; MAJ William Keller, MAJ Brandon Paniagua; CPT/P Travis Taggart; CPT/P Glenn Thomas
I also want to highlight CPT Jennifer Zanghi who was selected to enter the Experimental Pilot program. She is the first 67J to achieve this milestone bringing great credit to the talent in our ranks. We have also had a number of special unit selections, which collectively, have been the right moves for the Army. We are small and all these moves come at a cost that we will need to continue to closely manage but, to me, these and the great leaders above are indicative of the exclusive talents we continue to develop.
I often was asked by many Army Senior Leaders what’s so special about 67Js, and my consistent answer (and firm belief) was and remains that 67Js are superb leaders. We bring extraordinary leadership in any formation, anytime, and anywhere.
My final thought is all about what I witnessed my last four years. That is, the legacy of DUSTOFF has not changed. Rather it has grown deeper in the woven fabric of 67Js and DUSTOFF formations today. They fully understand why they exist and where they came from. I share this final SPOTREP to bring credit and honor to all those before us and inspire all those selflessly serving today.