Carmona

Carmona

FORT HUACHUCA — Lt. Col Wendy Gray, the joke-telling commander of the Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center on Fort Huachuca who guided her staff and others on the installation through the trying times of COVID-19, will be heading to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office.

After serving 22 months on Fort Huachuca, Gray relinquished command on Monday to Lt. Col. Marie Carmona. The latter arrived on Fort Huachuca last week with her husband, Enrique, and their three children after serving as deputy commander for nursing at the Dunham U.S. Army Health Clinic in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

At her first COVID-19 Town Hall on Facebook with Commanding Gen. Tony Hale and Command Sgt. Maj. Warren Robinson Tuesday, Carmona cracked her first joke, explaining she had been told that her predecessor — Gray — always started out her portion of the Town Hall with a quip.

Gray became well-known at the height of the pandemic as she appeared weekly on the Facebook COVID-19 Town Hall sessions. While she told jokes, Gray always offered level-headed advice in a calm voice.

It was also not rare to see Gray outside RWBAHC delivering medications to patrons of the pharmacy during the months that the curbside delivery service was in full swing.

After the change of command ceremony Monday on Brown Parade Field at the installation, Gray thanked the people around her who made her command all the easier.

“It has been surreal,” Gray said. “I never imagined in a million years that I would be surrounded by such an awesome team and as supportive as they were.

“If it wasn’t for the senior leaders at the installation and my team at RWBAHC, I definitely could not have survived the pandemic alone.”

Gray, a nurse practitioner who is married and has a grown daughter, will be the deputy director of the talent office at the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office in Washington, D.C.

On his Facebook page, Hale congratulated Gray on “a job well done,” and welcomed Carmona “to the team.”

Carmona, in a short interview after Monday’s ceremony, sounded ebullient about her new role.

“I am extremely excited and very humbled to be taking command at Raymond W. Bliss,” she said. “This is a great opportunity and I’m just so thankful for it.”