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USS Milius (DDG 69) Holds Change of Command Ceremony

01 May 2023

From MC1 Gregory Johnson, Commander, Task Force 71/Destroyer Squadron 15 Public Affairs

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69) held a change of command ceremony at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, May 1.

Cmdr. Matthew Hays walks through side boys following a change-of-command ceremony aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69). During the ceremony, Hays was relieved as Milius’ commanding officer by Cmdr. Leif Gunderson. Milius is assigned to Commander, Task Force 71/Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force.
Cmdr. Matthew Hays walks through side boys following a change-of-command ceremony aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69). During the ceremony, Hays was relieved as Milius’ commanding officer by Cmdr. Leif Gunderson. Milius is assigned to Commander, Task Force 71/Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force.
Cmdr. Matthew Hays walks through side boys following a change-of-command ceremony aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69). During the ceremony, Hays was relieved as Milius’ commanding officer by Cmdr. Leif Gunderson. Milius is assigned to Commander, Task Force 71/Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force.
230501-N-UA460-0231
Cmdr. Matthew Hays walks through side boys following a change-of-command ceremony aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69). During the ceremony, Hays was relieved as Milius’ commanding officer by Cmdr. Leif Gunderson. Milius is assigned to Commander, Task Force 71/Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force.
Photo By: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Greg Johnson
VIRIN: 230501-N-UA460-0231


During the ceremony, Cmdr. Leif Gunderson relieved Cmdr. Matthew Hays as Milius’ commanding officer on the ship’s flight deck in front of more than 300 crew members and visitors.

“It’s an honor of a lifetime to assume command of this great warship,” said Gunderson. “I want to give a special thanks to Cmdr. Hays and his excellent leadership over the past two years. I look forward to continuing to work with Team Milius as we move forward with unmatched determination and execution.”

Gunderson is a Waldorf, Maryland, native and 2004 graduate of North Carolina State University. He was commissioned with distinguished honors through Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida, the same year. He assumes command of Milius after serving as the ship’s executive officer.

During his 19-month tour, Hays commanded Milius through two Continuous Maintenance Availabilities, a Surface Incremental Availability, Surface Warfare Advanced Technical Training, a periodic Board of Inspection and Survey, multiple high-level exercises and three deployments in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

“Throughout my tour in command of Milius, the dedicated Sailors on board have owned and driven my priorities of warfighting readiness, tactical excellence, and maintenance and self-sufficiency – keeping Milius a ready and lethal warship, ready to support the fleet for any and all tasking,” said Hays. “They have proudly carried the name and legacy of Capt. Milius – working selflessly every day.”

Hays, who was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal during the ceremony, will serve his next tour at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

Milius’ namesake honors Capt. Paul Milius, a Navy pilot who saved the lives of seven crew members by remaining at the controls when his OP-E2 aircraft was shot down over Vietnam.

Milius is part of Commander, Task Force 71, U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force. CTF 71 is responsible for the readiness, tactical and administrative responsibilities for forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers as well as any surface unit conducting independent operations in the region.

U.S. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

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