Navy researchers at Wright-Patt to welcome new commander this week

U.S. Navy medical researchers stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will welcome a new commander Friday.

The Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton — also known as “NAMRU Dayton” — will hold a change-of-command ceremony at 1 p.m. Friday at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson.

Navy Capt. Walter Dalitsch III will be relieved by Capt. William Howard in a formal ceremony officiated by Capt. Franca Jones, commander of the Naval Medical Research Command,

“Capt. Dalitsch has served with distinction at NAMRU Dayton, leading critical research initiatives and fostering a collaborative environment that has advanced the unit’s mission of optimizing the readiness, performance, and survivability of operational forces through environmental health effects, toxicology and aerospace medical research and development,” NAMRU said in a release.

The O-6 rank of captain in the Navy is equivalent to a colonel in the Air Force.

While the Navy isn’t new at Wright-Patterson, the service’s presence there can take even people familiar with the base by surprise, Dalitsch told the Dayton Daily News in 2022.

“Oh, people are surprised all the time. I tell people I feel like an aircraft carrier out of water here,” Dalitsch quipped.

Incoming commander Howard has an extensive background in military medicine and research positions, NAMRU said.

Jones serves as the commander of NAMRU Dayton’s immediate superior in command organization in Silver Spring, Md.

A Navy toxicology unit was moved to Wright-Patterson from Washington, D.C. in 1976 to partner with a similar Air Force lab. An environmental health lab was already here when the 2005 BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) outcome began the process of moving another Navy science lab, the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Lab, to Wright-Patterson.

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