Col. Chad Koenig assumed responsibility as the 48th commander of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research during an assumption of command ceremony here at the Sen. Daniel Inouye Building Aug. 31.
Koenig replaces Brig. Gen. Clint Murray who relinquished responsibility of WRAIR July 8 after his nomination to brigadier general was approved by the United States Senate June 24. Murray has since assumed command of Brooke Army Medical Center August 2.
The ceremony was presided by Brig. Gen. Anthony McQueen, commanding general of United States Army Medical Research and Development Command and Fort Detrick, who recognized WRAIR’s long history of enhancing medical readiness for United States forces and saving millions of lives around the world.
“As you can gather, WRAIR requires a commander with lots of energy and experience – and I can’t think of anyone better to assume this role than Col. Chad Koenig,” McQueen said.
McQueen also highlighted Koenig’s qualifications from his previous assignment as the Deputy Commander for Patient Services for Brooke Army Medical Center, which is “one of the most complex medical treatment facilities in the Military Health System, and its missions provide a substantial degree of battlefield-oriented readiness.”
McQueen also praised Koenig’s involvement in the COVID-19 response during his time at BAMC, as the unit he assumes command of has been critical in supporting the nation’s response to the pandemic.
“Under his command, the team at Fort Jackson proactively developed and implemented a medical response to the pandemic which ensured that the Army’s largest training base did not need to pause recruit training,” McQueen said.
In his opening remarks, McQueen commended Koenig for his enthusiasm, patience, precision and sense of care, which are all traits that will “serve him well as he takes command of WRAIR.”
Assumption of command ceremonies are a military tradition that represent a transfer of authority and responsibilities to a new commanding officer when the previous commander has already relinquished command. These ceremonies also recognize the history, lineage and accomplishments of a unit and its commanders, which are represented in the colors of the unit’s flag.
McQueen handed the WRAIR colors to Koenig, symbolizing a continuation of trust and ensuring the unit always has official leadership.
In his remarks, Koenig thanked everyone for attending despite the ongoing pandemic and high operational tempo.
“Of course it is environments just like the one we are living through that make organizations like WRAIR so essential,” Koenig said.
Koenig also thanked his family and friends for their ongoing support, especially his parents who drove from Wisconsin to attend the ceremony in person.
“While I am sure they are convinced I brought them to town to help unpack, their attendance today brings me great joy and gives me a chance to tell them how much I appreciate everything they have done and all they sacrificed for myself and my siblings,” Koenig said. “In the end, I hope I can make them half as proud of me as I am of them.”
Koenig stressed the importance of the values the Army teaches to those who serve, and how these core values encouraged him to join.
“It is the integrity, loyalty, honor, self-sacrifice and belief that we are part of a much larger society and we are obligated to do our part to make it better,” Koenig said. “Given that context, it should be no surprise I made the Army my career; as those are the very same values that my family instilled in me.”
Koenig is now responsible for a distinguished medical research center that has served America’s military for more than 128 years, leading efforts in military and public health research such as studying insect-borne diseases, behavioral health, ongoing COVID-19 clinical trials and other threats to medical readiness of Soldiers.
“Through research to counter infectious diseases and enable brain health, WRAIR does more to protect Service Members than any weapons system or protective armor ever could,” Koenig said. “WRAIR truly does work to protect, preserve and enhance our Nation's top asset: U.S. Service Members.”