Change Of Command At Gulfport's Seabee Base - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Change Of Command At Gulfport's Seabee Base

The last time he did this Captain Eric Odderstol was assuming command of the 22nd Naval Construction Regiment. This time, after leading deployments around the world and one major hurricane recovery effort at home, he's handing over command to Captain Robert McLean.  

"It's been an interesting balance between tending to the needs of so many needy folks around the world and tending to our own back yard in Gulfport," says Odderstol.

He guided the Gulfport Seabees on a mission of rescue, recovery and rebuilding.  

"It was difficult to look a guy in the eye, or his family in the eye and say, 'Yeah, this is important, but there's a war on and we've got to go fight too.'"

In those difficult days, Lt. Blake Burkett was one of those people. He lead one of the first disaster recovery teams in the days following Katrina's passing.  

"It's amazing how someone can take a couple of seconds, see the foundation of their house right there, take a second and get right back into it," says Burkett.

But he says those are orders that are easy to follow from a leader like Captain Odderstol.  

"He was there giving us the overall: Protect the community. Fix people. Get things put back the way they should be. He let us get out there and do the things we needed to do."

From here, Odderstol goes to Norfolk Virginia to become Chief of Staff of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command. A new challenge for a humble leader, tested by the tour of a lifetime on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  

"We just followed the lead of these fine people on the Gulf Coast," says Odderstol. "There's just no question about it."  

by Don Culpepper

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