Change of command on Indian Island

INDIAN ISLAND — A new commanding officer took over Naval Magazine Indian Island on Tuesday afternoon, as Cmdr. Gary Martin assumed command from Cmdr. Mark Loose, who is retiring.

More than 100 family members, friends, military personnel and local dignitaries attended the 40-minute ceremony in which Martin assumed command of the largest naval ammunition facility on the West Coast, which provides ordnance support to the Pacific fleet and joint services.

Loose is retiring from the Navy to Virginia Beach, Va., after 33 years of service, the last two in his current post.

Martin served as commanding officer of Naval Weapons Station Charleston, S.C., from January to September of this year.

“You have a strong staff that loves their work and are well-qualified,” Martin said in his remarks directed toward Loose.

“I look forward to diving in and wrapping my head around the operations and providing the necessary leadership to maintain the great reputation that you and your team have worked so hard to establish.”

After the ceremony, Martin said he would follow Loose’s leadership example.

“Cmdr. Loose was a hard-charging individual who set some standards, and I will probably call on him a time or two to get some guidance and direction.”

Increased efficiency

Loose was credited with increasing the efficiency of the operation, which includes the distribution of ordnance to ships and submarines.

“Cmdr. Loose, you have superbly served as commander of Naval Magazine Indian Island, which is one of the crown jewels of naval infrastructure in the support of the Pacific Fleet,” said Rear Adm. Douglass Biesel.

Biesel said the base, under Loose’s direction, moved more than 70,000 tons of ordnance to 91 waiting ships and conducted 41,000 crane lifts without a single accident.

While the tribute to Loose was respectful, it was full of humor.

Biesel told of Loose’s taking online courses when he earned his master’s. Turning to Loose, Biesel asked, “They had computers back then?”

Loose began his remarks with thanks for several staff members and associates, taking a moment to distribute liquor and flowers to the honorees.

He also thanked his family, which included several active and retired military ­ members: his father, brother and son, who took the opportunity to re-enlist as an Air Force staff sergeant in an oath administered by Loose.

Tribute to wife

Loose’s voice broke as he paid tribute to his wife, Nancy.

“She’s been my best friend, my soulmate, my sounding board. She has filled that role with a smile and a great attitude,” he said.

“She’s been the model Navy wife; she’s filled the role of a single parent, car mechanic, bottle-washer, head cook, baseball coach, grass-cutter, taxi driver — you name it, she can do it.

“I love you and would not have made it this far without you.”

For a video of the change of command, visit


Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or

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