When Navy Vice Adm. Michelle Skubic left her first ship in Bahrain as a young sailor, she said it was miserably hot – about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. With her sea bag over her shoulder, she was filled with mixed emotions at leaving her team.
“I was that salty sailor finishing my first sea tour with the Gulf War under my belt. I was sad to leave the team. We had become a family, but I was also excited for the new adventures, just like today,” she said.
Skubic retired after 35 years of service to the Navy and handed off the role of director of the Defense Logistics Agency to Army Lt. Gen. Mark Simerly during a change of responsibility and retirement ceremony Feb. 2 at the agency’s Fort Belvoir, Virginia, headquarters.
“You get to picture me with a full sea bag slung over my shoulder, full of some amazing memories, some heart-wrenching losses, lifelong friendships, and pride in so many great teams and teammates that I’ve been honored to serve alongside. I’m again proud, sad and excited for the next adventure,” she said.
She thanked her family, friends and colleagues, many of whom were in attendance. Her future plans include traveling, seeing sports games, possibly taking up bowling, and going to see Taylor Swift in concert in Sweden this summer.
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment Christopher Lowman officiated the ceremony and highlighted Skubic’s accomplishments at DLA.
“DLA’s journey over six decades has been one of remarkable evolution and service, mirrored by the steadfast commitment and impact of Vice Adm. Skubic. Her tenure as the 20th DLA director has been marked by profound accomplishment, steering this vital organization through challenging times with resilience and foresight,” Lowman said.
Skubic came to DLA in July 2020, just a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency jumped into action, providing personal protective equipment to hospitals and nursing homes, delivering vaccines to military at home and abroad, and managing the distribution of more than 730 million COVID-19 test kits to Americans.
She also oversaw the agency as it provided support to Ukraine, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and several national hurricane responses, among other achievements.
“Michelle, your dedication to duty and your country have been exactly what our nation needed. You have continued to carry the torch and take on every challenge presented to you. It has been an honor to work with you as part of the sustainment team and watch your dedication to the warfighter,” Lowman said.
Simerly returns to agency after serving as DLA Troop Support’s commander from 2017 to 2019. His previous assignment was as the commanding general for the Army Combined Arms Support Command Sustainment Center of Excellence from July 2021 to December 2023.
He shared three themes in his first speech as DLA’s director: gratitude, determination and confidence.
“To say that today is a high point of my career in the United States Army would be an understatement,” he said.
He thanked his father and father-in-law, both of whom served in the Army, as well as his wife Cindy and their two children for the sacrifices they made throughout his career. He also thanked Skubic for her time as the agency’s director.
“I will do my best to advance the legacy of excellence you and the 19 previous DLA directors have established and cultivated for more than 62 years,” Simerly said.
Simerly said he is privileged to be back on the DLA team, and he is confident the agency will continue to generate warfighter readiness while taking care of each other and building on DLA’s culture.
“The Department of Defense and our nation are counting on us, ladies and gentlemen. I’m humbled and honored to lead the nation’s combat logistics support agency,” Simerly said. “As the first DLA Director Lt. Gen. Andrew McNamara frequently said, ‘let’s get going.’”