By MC1 John Curtis, NMCB 5 Public Affairs
Cmdr. Cameron Geertsema (right) passes the battalion’s colors to Cmdr. Matthew Riethmiller during NMCB 5’s change of command ceremony, Camp Shields, Okinawa, Japan, May 29. (Photo by MC1 John P. Curtis/150529-N-SD120-003)
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 held a change of command ceremony May 29 while deployed to Camp Shields in Okinawa, Japan. Cmdr. Cameron Geertsema was relieved by Cmdr. Matthew Riethmiller, becoming the 40th commanding officer of NMCB 5.
Geertsema served as the battalion’s commanding officer from June 2013. During his tenure, the battalion executed 66 construction projects throughout the U.S. Pacific Command area of operations in more than 30 different geographical locations. The projects included partnering with host nations to build, renovate and make improvements to more than 35 schools, maternity wards and hospitals in Cambodia, Timor Leste, Philippines, and Western Samoa.
“It’s been a pleasure and privilege to lead this incredible battalion,” said Geertsema. “I am both thankful and humbled to have had the opportunity to get to know you and your families.” Geertsema received the Meritorious Service Medal from the guest speaker, Capt. Christopher Kurgan, commander, Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1.
Kurgan praised Geertsema for the battalion’s successes and molding fine leaders within the battalion. He then welcomed Riethmiller by saying he completed “tough assignments, very successfully” and is confident that Riethmiller will lead the battalion effectively.
The change of command between the two men was solidified by the passing of the colors from Geertsema to Riethmiller, a tradition among Naval Construction Force units during changes of command and changes of charge.
Cmdr. Matthew Riethmiller addresses NMCB 5’s Seabees for the first time as commanding officer during a change of command ceremony, Camp Shields, Okinawa, Japan, May 29. (Photo by MC1 John P. Curtis/150529-N-SD120-005)
Riethmiller thanked the battalion for taking the time to “celebrate a great battalion and to say farewell to a great leader [Geertsema] and his family.”
“I cannot tell you what it means to be here today,” said Riethmiller when addressing the audience and Seabees in formation. “The culmination of a career and an honor I could not have imagined as a young Seabee 20 years ago.”
He said he is sure the best years of his career will “no doubt come from the next 24 months” with the battalion.
Riethmiller is a Columbus, Ohio native who earned a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Ohio State University and a Master’s Degree in environmental engineering from Old Dominion University. He is a Seabee Combat Warfare qualified Officer, a registered professional engineer in the state of the North Carolina, and a member of the Department of Defense Acquisition Professional Community. His personal awards include two Meritorious Service Medals, six Navy and Marine Commendation Medals (one with Valor), a Joint Service Achievement Medal, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and the Combat Action Ribbon.
Riethmiller was most recently assigned as the Public Works Officer for Naval Base Coronado complex in San Diego. His previous assignments were as NMCB 3’s Air Detachment officer-in-charge and Charlie Company commander, as NMCB 11’s operation officer during the battalion’s commissioning in 2007, and he served as the aide to the Commander, First Naval Construction Division.
NMCB 5 is homeported in Port Hueneme, Calif. and is currently deployed to Okinawa, Japan. Its mission is to support Navy and joint forces throughout the U.S. Pacific Command with construction projects and humanitarian missions in more than 13 different geographical locations.
Cmdr. Matthew Riethmiller (left) and Cmdr. Cameron Geertsema “troop the line” during NMCB 5’s change of command ceremony, Camp Shields, Okinawa, Japan, May 29. (Photo by MC1 John P. Curtis/150529-N-SD120-002)