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News | June 24, 2019

NAMRU-6 Holds Change of Command

By Steve Vanderwerff, Naval Medical Research Center

LIMA, Peru – U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No. 6 (NAMRU-6) held a change of command ceremony at the Peruvian Naval Hospital in Callao, Peru June 21.

Capt. William R. Howard relieved Capt. Guillermo Pimentel as Commanding Officer of NAMRU-6.

Special guests included Mark Wells, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru, Rear Adm. Gian Marco Chiapperini Faverio, Director of Peruvian Navy Health, Rear Adm. Paul D. Pearigen, commander, Navy Medicine West and Chief of Navy Medical Corps, and Capt. Adam W. Armstrong, commander, Naval Medical Research Center. 

As the guest speaker, Pearigen highlighted the many achievements of how NAMRU-6 supports force health protection and increases the lethality of joint warfighters. 

Before assuming command of NAMRU-6 Pimentel served as executive officer (XO) from July 2015 to March 2017. In March of 2017 he became its commanding officer (CO). During his address he discussed the noteworthy achievements during his tenure as commanding officer. 

“We were able to solidify our mission of medical product development for the warfighter and we established NAMRU-6 as the partner of choice for United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and all components. Second, we were able to establish a solid laboratory presence at Joint Task Force Bravo in Honduras,” he said. “Our new laboratory spaces will allow us to continue providing Force Health Protection coverage for the U.S. personnel and military operations in the Central American (CENTAM) region.”

He also reflected on his past four years as CO and fondness for the staff. 

“What I will miss the most, will be all of the staff. I was honored to lead the best group of naval officers, U.S. civilian and Peruvian employees in the best research laboratory outside of the continental U.S.,” Pimentel said. “Their daily contribution in a very difficult environment is impressive and their affection for the mission is contagious.”

Armstrong, praised Pimentel for his remarkable leadership and commitment to the Navy Medicine Research and Development Enterprise.

"I am honored to call you shipmate, and friend," he said. "Throughout Peru and South America, you have made a difference and improved lives."

Pimentel will now report to Armed Forces Health Surveillance Board as Chief of Global Emerging Infections Surveillance in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Afterward Howard thanked and expressed his appreciation to Pimentel.

“I gratefully acknowledge the guidance and mentoring Capt. Pimentel has provided over several months while preparing for the change of command,” he said. “I congratulate him on his highly successful tour as commanding officer and look forward to continuing to work with him in the future.”

A native of Frankfort, Kentucky, Howard earned his Master’s degree in toxicology from Johns Hopkins University. After receiving his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Kentucky in 2001, he entered the Medical Service Corps as a lieutenant in 2002. His most recent assignment was XO of Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

NAMRU-6 has a long-standing agreement with the Peruvian Navy that dates back to 1983. Hosted by the Peruvian Navy and co-located at their flagship hospital in Lima, and also at the Naval Clinic in Iquitos and in Puerto Maldonado, NAMRU-6 conducts research on and surveillance of a wide range of infectious diseases of military or public health significance in the region, including malaria and dengue fever, yellow fever, viral encephalitides, leishmaniasis, and enteric diseases such as shigellosis and typhoid fever, as well as anti-microbial resistance monitoring.