Vice Adm. Charles W. Ray relieved Vice Adm. Paul F. Zukunft as Commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area and Coast Guard Defense Forces West, in a change of command ceremony at Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif., April 22, 2014.
“This is not a transition, this is a continuity of leadership,” said Zukunft. “Just as the ceremony we observe today is a continuity of leadership, this is not a change of command — just a newer, younger face will step in and take my place.”
Zukunft served as the Pacific Area Commander since April 2012, and is leaving to assume the duties as the Coast Guard Commandant in Washington, D.C., upon Senate confirmation.
“It has been a pleasure serving as the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area commander for the past two years, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue my service as the Coast Guard’s 25th Commandant,” said Zukunft.
Ray served as the Pacific Area deputy since 2013. His previous flag assignments include Coast Guard District 14 Commander, service with U.S. Forces Iraq as Director of the Iraq Training and Advisory Mission for the Ministry of Interior, and as the Military Advisor to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Ray, a Newport, Ark., native, is a 1981 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy. After an assignment as a deck watch officer aboard Coast Guard Cutter Acushnet, he was selected for Naval Flight Training and earned his wings in 1983.
The change of command ceremony is a time-honored tradition that formally restates that the continuity of command will be maintained. It is a formal ritual, conducted before the assembled company of the command. It conveys to the officers, enlisted personnel, civilian employees, and auxiliarists of the Coast Guard that although the authority of command is relinquished by one person and is assumed by another, it is still maintained without interruption.
PACAREA’s area of responsibility encompasses six of the seven continents, 71 countries, and more than 74 million square miles of ocean — from the U.S. Western States to Asia, and from the Arctic to Antarctica.
Press Release, April 23, 2014; Image: USCG