After 33 years of dedicated service, Rear Adm. Mike Zarkowski requested permission to go ashore for the last time, after relinquishing Command of Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC) to Rear Adm. Trent DeMoss, on Aug. 14.
In the small, informal ceremony aboard NAS Patuxent River, presiding officer Vice Adm. Dean Peters, Commander, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) granted Zarkowski that last request and acknowledged DeMoss as the new leader of COMFRC.
Peters then presented Zarkowski with the Navy Distinguished Service Medal from the President of the United States and awarded by the Secretary of the Navy. He accepted on behalf of COMFRC and expressed his heartfelt thanks to all the Fleet Readiness Centers’ (FRC) workforce — artisans to leadership — as well as headquarters staff for the dedicated service they provide to the Fleet every day.
“It’s been a privilege and pleasure to lead COMFRC. I thank all the Sailor, Marine, civilian, and contractor employees for their unwavering support over the last four years,” Zarkowski said.
The Navy Distinguished Service Medal is bestowed upon members of the Navy or Marine Corps who distinguish themselves by exceptionally meritorious service to the United States government in a duty of great responsibility.
Zarkowski shared one last sea story, relaying the pride he felt every time he came ashore after a successful deployment or work-up cycle and hearing all aircraft were “safe on deck.” As an Aviation Maintenance Duty Officer (AMDO) or “greenshirt” as they are called in the Fleet, he was responsible throughout his career for maintaining aircraft, ultimately leading the COMFRC enterprise.
For the last two years, COMFRC has been focused on implementing and maintaining changes brought about the Naval Sustainment System, Aviation (NSS-A) model, which was the catalyst for improved turn-around times and overall readiness.
Peters commended Zarkowski on his exemplary leadership while at the helm, specifically during a transformational time. “Zark, you should be extremely proud of all that you’ve accomplished in support of NSS with FRC reform, and really working collaboratively with all stakeholders to drive up the number of mission capable aircraft,” Peters said.
NSS was just one of Zarkowski’s success stories while in command; COMFRC also made great strides in reducing quality escapes, improving safety metrics, and increasing throughput of aircraft, engines, components and support equipment.
Before reading his orders, both Peters and Zarkowski expressed their utmost confidence in DeMoss, stating he was the best fit to lead COMFRC in today’s great power competition.
Prior to assuming the role as Commander, DeMoss served as the vice commander.
With 49 intermediate and depot level maintenance commands, a workforce of almost 20,000 and a total obligation authority of $14.8 billion, COMFRC supports 11 carrier strike groups, nine carrier air wings and 38 type/model/series (T/M/S) aircraft across the Fleet and Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE). COMRC is responsible for naval aviation support, repairs, upgrades, and facilitation of exclusive projects in the development and advancement of making the Navy lethal.