Story by CPO Carla Burdt on 08/01/2019NRD San Diego Bids Farewell to Commanding Officer
By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Carla Burdt
Navy Recruiting District (NRD) San Diego said goodbye to their commanding officer who led the command with compassion and commitment for the past three years.
In a change of command ceremony at Naval Base Point Loma Harbor Drive Annex August 1, Cmdr. Jason Eckhardt relieved Cmdr. Patrick Copeland as commander, NRD San Diego.
A native of Manchester, Connecticut, Copeland reported to NRD San Diego in November 2016 as the executive officer and assumed command in May 2018.
Under Copeland's leadership, NRD San Diego has excelled, earning three consecutive retention excellence awards, the Recruiting "R" for excellence in 2017 and 2018, Navy Recruiting Region West Most Improved District in 2017, and Navy Recruiting Region West District of the Year 2018.
Guest speaker, Commodore, Navy Recruiting Region West, Capt. Glen O'Loughlin, spoke fondly Copeland and the incredible things NRD San Diego has accomplished under his leadership.
"I'm here to congratulate Commander Copeland on his accomplishments but he would be the first to say that it was his staff members who made the command so successful," said O'Loughlin.
According to O'Loughlin, under Copeland's leadership first as executive officer then as commanding officer, NRD San Diego put more than 8,000 people into the Navy.
"You and your team recruited and processed over 8,200 highly qualified men and women in the United States Navy and Navy Reserve," said O'Loughlin. "That's enough people to man one and a half aircraft carriers!"
O'Loughlin said that being in recruiting, it is easy to forget that recruiters are part of the Navy's mission.
"If we in Recruiting Nation don't make mission then no one else in the Navy makes their mission either," said O'Loughlin. "Without the outstanding efforts here in San Diego and across Recruiting Nation, no ship sets Sail, no aircraft are launched, and no submarines get underway."
O'Loughlin presented Copeland with a Meritorious Service Medal and the Navy Recruiting Service Ribbon.
In his farewell speech, Copeland spoke of his proudest accomplishments in his tenure at NRD San Diego.
"I am truly proud to be part of this team, said Copeland. "Over the past three years, NRD San Diego accomplished things that no one thought possible. Back in September 2018, NRD San Diego had a goal of 287 new contracts - the highest goal an NRD had seen in the last 15 years."
Prior to September 2018, NRD San Diego led the nation every mission area including Special Warfare, Nuclear Field, New Accession Training, Prior Service, and New Contract Objectives, and ranked first for enlisted and officer program recruiting in Navy Recruiting Region West.
"Despite all of our past accomplishments, 287 was a big number," said Copeland. "To make goal that month we were required to write more than 15 contracts every single day a significant increase not achieved in recent memory. We started out the month slow and needed more than 100 contracts going into the last five production days of the month."
To motivate the team, Copeland said that he would shave his head if the command achieved the goal of 287.
"As we rolled into the last production day of September, I was receiving calls from all over the nation to see how we were doing," said Copeland. "Contract-by-contract, the team inched closer to the goal. Halfway through the day we started to struggle with the medical process, so I thought my hair was safe, but the team had other plans."
The last production day of September, NRD San Diego achieved 30 new contracts, and achieved more than 300 contracts for the month.
"That was one of my proudest moments as your commanding officer," said Copeland. "I was happy to have my head shaved that day by my teammates who got the job done. Unfortunately, I think some of it has yet to grow back."
Copeland concluded his farewell speech by talking about the personal and professional achievements of NRD San Diego personnel.
"When I took command, I asked three things of you all: to be professionals and represent the Navy with pride, to do your best on a daily basis to achieve personal goals and mission as a team, and, most importantly, to take care of yourselves, your families and your teammates," said Copeland. "I am so proud to say that you more than achieved these goals. You consistently demonstrated that you are the highest producing recruiting team in the nation, and you impress me day in and day out with your professionalism and dedication to the mission. Although earning Region West District of the Year meant a lot, what meant the most to me was seeing every one of you grow and achieve all your personal goals."
Eckhardt, a native of League City, Texas, has served as executive officer since May 2018.
In his speech, Eckhardt said his commitment to the personnel at NRD San Diego and the Navy's mission make the job rewarding.
"Last year I arrived in May, and it has been full throttle ever since, many long hours and weekends going home completely exhausted just to wake up at 4 a.m. and do it all again," said Eckhardt. "Our Sailors are the ones who keep me coming back to do this," said Eckhardt. "So, I thank my shipmates out there."
Concluding his speech, he echoed O'Loughlin's sentiments about the importance of what NRD San Diego personnel are doing.
"NRD San Diego is the largest district, and we put in more Sailors than any district in the nation," said Eckhardt. "Region West and Navy Recruiting count on us every single month to make mission. Here in San Diego we are in a unique position to have close relationships with our friends on the waterfront. They consistently count on us to provide them with the best Future Sailors that they can be proud to call shipmates. The Fleet Starts right here."
Established January 1975, NRD San Diego encompasses 210,000 square miles covering Arizona, Nevada and Southern California. Headquartered at Naval Base Point Loma, NRD San Diego has more than 50 recruiting stations in the tri-state region and employs more than 300 recruiters, support personnel and civilians.