Commanders Business

The Change Of Command Speech – A twist on the “thank everyone I know” Speech

Incoming commander of The Sabalauski Air Assault School, Captain Kevin Gibbons, gives a speech during his Change of Command Ceremony, Wednesday, March 6, 2019.

With 20 years of Naval Service under my belt, I’ve attended many, many change of command speeches. Some good, some not so, but they all follow a typical pattern.  The Presiding Officer first talks; he first thanks the crowd, distinguished guests, former CO, ongoing and off going Commanders and the team who got arrived at 0600 to set up the venue.

The off-going Commander, who should be the most thankful person in the room for his successful command tour then steps up and takes the pulpit. He thanks the guest, his extended family, wife and kids, personal guests, his Command, the Chiefs, Petty Officers, Officers, his Commodore, the Commodores staff, and on and on and on.

Finally, the oncoming Commander takes the floor. By this time the crowd feels plenty thanked.
In my three for four minutes that the oncoming Commander has allotted for a Change of Command speech, I decided to do things a bit differently.

Rather than spending the first 3 minutes of my speech thanking individuals, I intend on spending my short time on the stage expressing appreciation for the specific mentorship and personal development energy that others put into me.   The intention is that I am not only expressing appreciation, but I am encouraging my guests to develop others using my personal development as an example.


Thank you, It is an honor to be here……

When thinking about today there are two terms that I use and frequently come back to.

“ I am blessed”  – and  “It is an Honor to serve”.

And it is truly an honor of a lifetime to be in the Navy as a Naval Officer, be in command in San Diego in February.    Smile, Wait  laugh…

As I look out at the audience there are so many people that contributed, either in a large or small way to this point.

While I would love to spend the next hour, two hours, or more going down the list and specifically calling them out by name and deed, unfortunately time precludes that.

Rather I want to focus on some specific deeds that I am most grateful for. Deeds that were not only pivotal in my personal and professional development; but that can be applied to the next Midshipman Smith, Ensign Smith, or LT Smith.

    • I so appreciate those people who prayed for me.
    • I’d like to thank those precious few people who sat down with me and gave me honest, hard and critical feedback. Those hard discussions have been game changers in my professional development.
    • I’d like to thanks those people who invested in me, took a personal interest in my professional development, challenged me and helped me grow to be a better man.
      • They did that not based on anything I did, or what they saw in me but based on their character and their commitment to invest in individuals
    • I’d like to thank my community leaders who asked me during my officer board“ what are you reading?” and then beat me up, without mercy, when I stumbled my way around an answer.
      • Have you know…. I have a much better answer now

Two  Specific Thanks:

To the woman who raised me – My mother

To the woman who made me a better man – my wife

I am truly humbled…..

Now, for all those people above that helped me get to where I am today, the only thing I can offer you in return is more hard work.  Keep it up. Starting today I need your  help even more now.

Jason/Don/Chris/Clint – Keep it up, push me to be a better man

Mom and Dad – Keep it up

Mentors/Coaches/Ricks/AGC/XO – Keep it up, keep me accountable, honest, and push me to excellence.

And when I’m gone, go find someone else. Go find the next the next MIDN, ENS, LT Laney, and go pour yourself into and develop that person

What you did worked for me and I would be very grateful if you continue that work and pass it on.

Please pass that on. I am so grateful for the above examples

Thank you, it is an honor to be here and an honor to serve….

<<< Smile, Pause, Exit>>>>

If you need some additional resources for your military change of command speech below are two additional links. The first one is far superior to the second and contains a standard template for a Change Of Command Speech.

Example Change of Command Speeches:

If you have a Military Change of Command speech, either oncoming or off going, that you would like to share with the DODReads audience please drop us a line and let us know. We would love to hear your perspective.

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