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Naval Air and Missile Defense Command and Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense held ceremonies Jan. 6 honoring the career of Rear Adm. Randall Hendrickson, who retired last month after 30 years of service to the Navy and nation. Hendrickson served as the commander of NAMDC and program executive of Aegis BMD since arriving at Naval Support Facility Dahlgren in 2012.

During a short ceremony in Building 1700, Hendrickson bid farewell to his fellow NAMDC members. Accompanied by his wife, Annette, and family members, the admiral thanked the Sailors, civilians and contractors for the work accomplished during his tenure.

“You did a terrific job for the 14 months I have been here and you have set yourself up for success,” said Hendrickson. “God bless all of you and keep up the good work.”

Hendrickson retired from the Navy on Dec. 31. In his closing letter to the command he wrote, “From training to assessment to doctrine to analysis to command and control, you are leading the way in Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD).”

He also noted in his letter the numerous achievements, milestones and products provided to the fleet by the command. “Support to the Warfighter and the Fleet will be the legacy that we all leave behind directly contributing to our Nation’s defense.”

On behalf of the command, the admiral was presented a framed NAMDC print and Mrs. Hendrickson was presented flowers. After the ceremony concluded, he proceeded to a similar event at Aegis BMD.

There, Vice Adm. James Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency, praised Hendrickson for his “monumental achievements” leading Aegis BMD, including five intercept flight tests and the completion of six BMD installation projects, with four more in progress. During Hendrickson’s tenure, Aegis BMD also facilitated the delivery of dozens of missiles to the fleet while preparing the way for new and more advanced missile technology.

“If you think of that under the cloud of budget uncertainty, continuing resolutions, budget cuts, furloughs, everything else that has challenged us across government, what [Hendrickson] did to keep things together and keep us focused on delivering product, I think, is nothing short of magnificent,” said Syring.

Syring also noted Hendrickson’s contributions to the BMD community before coming to Dahlgren. In 2008, Hendrickson commanded USS Lake Erie during an operation that intercepted the USA 93 satellite with a modified SM-3 missile before it reentered the earth’s atmosphere. The successful mission prevented the satellite’s toxic hydrazine fuel from harming people or the environment.

“Randy was at the forefront of that,” said Syring. “His leadership made that happen for the country.”

Syring recommended Hendrickson for the Distinguished Service Medal for his superior performance of duties leading Aegis BMD and NAMDC. Hendrickson also received certificates and letters appreciation from Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, and President Barack Obama.

Hendrickson thanked Syring and everyone else, from former shipmates, to staff, to civilian employees, who helped make his career successful. “Thanks to all of you,” he said. “I will be admiring from ashore what goes on next and I think you’ll be in great shape.”

Hendrickson expressed confidence that his successor at Aegis BMD, Laura DeSimone, deputy program executive, would advance the organization’s progress in the future. “The leadership is in just the right spot,” he said. “We put some really good things into place and. Laura, I have full faith and confidence in you’ll be able to continue and as the admiral said, make [Aegis BMD] stronger and better.”

(Editor’s note: the author thanks Chris Clever, public affairs specialist at NAMDC, for contributions to this article)