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News | July 1, 2014

JTF-Bravo Medical Element Welcomes New Commander

By U.S. Army Sgt. Catherine Tharpe Joint Task Force-Bravo Medical Element

Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element welcomed a new commander during a change of command ceremony June 30, 2014 at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras. U. S. Army Col. David Wolken assumed command from U. S. Army Lt. Col. Huy Luu with U. S. Army Col. Kirk Dorr, Joint Task Force-Bravo commander, presiding.

"It is an honor and a tremendous privilege to take command of a unit that has such a historic past of excellence and significance in Central America. The Medical Element (MEDEL) of Joint Task Force-Bravo has a fine reputation across the U.S. Army Medical Command," said Col. Wolken. "I sought out this post and it is a huge honor to be the commander of MEDEL."

Wolken gave his speech in front of more than 100 Joint Task Force-Bravo Airmen, Soldiers, and Sailors which included other commanders from the Army Support Activity, 1-228th Aviation Regiment, Joint Security Forces, Army Forces Battalion, 612th Air Base Squadron and representatives from the Honduras armed forces and local hospital dignitaries. His father, mother, and wife, Jodi Ann, attended the ceremony.

"All expectations I had of MEDEL were exceeded within the few days I have been here. I heard nothing but exceptional and meritorious achievements accomplished by the service men and women who are a part of this unit," said Wolken.

Wolken is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where he earned a baccalaureate degree in Pre-professional Studies, a doctorate of medicine from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and was commissioned as a Captain into the Army Medical Corps. He's also a graduate of the Command and General Staff College.

Luu's next assignment will be at the AMEDD center and schools in San Antonio, Texas.

Joint Task Force-Bravo's MEDEL is composed of 64 Army personnel who have come together from across the United States and have provided medical care to more than 8,000 people in Honduras over the last 12 months. MEDEL provides preventative medical care, wellness check-ups, dental care, preventative dental care, surgical care, and physical therapy through local partnerships in Comayagua, Tegucigalpa, and through local Medical Readiness Training Exercises (MEDRETES) which are carried out on a weekly basis. MEDEL hosts many training opportunities with the country of Honduras to build strong partnerships between both countries.