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The Joint Chiefs of Staff said a fond farewell to its vice chairman, Air Force General Joseph W. Ralston and extended a warm welcome to incoming VC Air Force General Richard B. Myers. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen presented Ralston, a 35-year veteran, with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, recognizing him for for his contributions in Allied Force air operations over Kosovo and to disaster relief efforts for Hurricane Mitch victims. Ralston leaves to become the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and Commander in Chief, U.S. European Command in May. Myers will be bringing his expertise as Commander in Chief of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado to the Joint Chiefs.
President Clinton officially nominated Rudy de Leon, the current Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, as Deputy Secretary of the Defense Department. Mr. de Leon, a professional staff member on the House Armed Services Committee from 1985 to 1992, joining DoD under Secretary Les Aspin's stewardship. De Leon will replace outgoing deputy John Hamre.
Retired Army Major General Robert G. Claypool, M.D. was named the first executive director of the newly created Military and Veterans Health Coordinating Board (MVHCB). A Northwestern alum and 34-year Army veteran, Claypool joined the MVHCB as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for health operations following his Dec. 31 retirement from the military.
In other military matters . . .
The USS John S. McCain has snagged top honors for superior food service on the high seas.
Navy Secretary Richard Danzig recently announced this year's winners of the Navy Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Awards and the Marine Corps Major General W.P.T. Hill Memorial Awards for outstanding food service in the Navy and Marine Corps. The McCain won first place for medium afloat galleys in the Pacific fleet. Atlantic fleet winners included the USS Montpelier and the USS Harry S. Truman. 1st Tank Battalion, Messhall 1610, 1st Marine Division, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, 29, in Palms, CA was the top dog for the Hill Awards' best mess hall. The Ney and Hill awards recognize overall excellence in customer service, restauranteurship, cleanliness and management.
The Senate Banking Committee unanimously approved former Rep. Jay Johnson, D-Wis., as director of the U.S. Mint. The full Senate is expected to vote soon on Johnson's nomination to succeed Philip Diehl, the Mint's present director. Johnson is currently deputy secretary for congressional relations at the Agriculture Department.
Speaking of Senate confirmations, David J. Hayes was finally approved as deputy secretary over at the Interior Department in late February, after spending ten months as acting deputy secretary. Hayes specialized in environmental issues in the Washington office of the national law firm Latham & Watkins.