Seventh Coast Guard District to receive new admiral

MIAMI – A change of command ceremony is scheduled for the Seventh Coast Guard District commander at Air Station Miami in Opa Locka, Fla., Thursday at 10 a.m.

During the change of command ceremony, Rear Adm. Bill Baumgartner, previously the Judge Advocate General and Chief Counsel of the Coast Guard in Washington, D.C., will assume the responsibilities as the Seventh Coast Guard District commander and Director of Homeland Security Task Force-Southeast from Rear Adm. Steve Branham. The ceremony is a time-honored military tradition that formally transfers command responsibility, authority and accountability from one individual to another.

Branham is retiring after 37 years of honorable service to the Coast Guard. He became the Seventh District commander May 2, 2008, and has previously held positions as the Atlantic Area Chief of Operations and Chief of Staff, and Executive Director of the U.S. Interdiction Coordinator (USIC) staff, directly assisting the Commandant in his role as USIC. Branham also served aboard six cutters, four of which were as the commanding officer.

Branham is a 1977 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Engineering. He was awarded a master’s degree in Business Administration by Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland in 1987 and a master’s degree in National Security Strategy by the National War College, Washington, D.C., in 1999.

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 that the officer directed by proper authority is taking command and an opportunity to witness this transfer of responsibility.

The Seventh Coast Guard District, headquartered in Miami, is a 1.8 million square mile area of responsibility that encompasses the Southeastern United States and the Caribbean basin. The district comprises six sectors and three major air stations. The district is also home to the two busiest ports in the nation, with more than 4 million visitors per year.

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