Collier takes helm of NOSC

Cmdr. Johnny Miller, right, outgoing commander of NOSC, shakes hands with the new NOSC leader, Cmdr. Brian S. Collier, left, as Capt. Gary Hetzel, Navy Region Northwest Reserve Component Commander looks on. Bryan Ilyankoff/Whidbey Crosswind

A change of command ceremony for the Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) took place Friday, June 3, at the Officer’s Club on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

The mission of NOSC is to augment Navy forces, providing operational and wartime crisis support with trained Navy men and women who are, as a plaque in front of the building says, “Ready to serve, now, anytime, anywhere.”

Cmdr. Johnny Miller, formerly an Oak Harbor Wildcat and Western Washington University graduate, passed his command over to Cmdr. Brian  S. Collier, a native of Philadelphia, and whose extensive blue-water experience — from amphibious boats, to frigates and destroyers to LHA-1’s — should serve him well.

The job for Miller, and now Collier, is the training and administration of reserve component Navy personnel assigned to various units in the  Pacific Northwest.

Currently they have about 800 personnel, both full-time staff and reservists, divided among 13 units in 10 different locations, from Whidbey Island to Yakima.

“Each unit does something different in support of our great military,” said Miller. “They do this for little money, always knowing they might be called to serve full time at moment’s notice.”

Miller said the unit has been in place since the 1920, first on Lake Washington in Seattle and then on Whidbey, transitioning to NAS Whidbey in 1970. It moved to its current location in 1989 and took the name of Navy Operational Support Center in October, 2006. NOSC reports to the Navy Region Northwest Reserve Component Command in Everett, Wash.

In the last 47 months, Miller said the staff shrank by 67 percent; two out of three sailors went away, but the work load didn’t.

“Most importantly, during this four-year period, my staff mobilized, primarily to a war zone, and usually for a year or more, over 210 individual sailors from NOSC — 38 of those were our own staff members,” he said.

Miller thanked many people including Rear Adm. Douglas Asbjornsen and Capt. Gary Hetzel, currently the Navy Region Northwest Reserve Component commander responsible for administrative oversight of 11 Navy Operation Support Centers in six states.

He also thanked his staff.

“To my staff, the men and women of NOSC Whidbey, keep up the good work. You have this NOSC looking mighty good,” he said. “Our nation is proud of you, our Navy is proud of you and I am proud of you.”

To his replacement, Cmdr. Collier, he said through his many accomplishments he’s proven he is highly qualified, highly capable and has earned the title of “Skipper.”

He then read his orders to report to Norfolk, Va., for duty.

Collier said the reason he was there was because of his three families.

“The family I was born into, the family I married into, and my Navy family,” he said.

He spent the next few minutes thanking and praising his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins; his wife, her mother, his son-in-law and the Navy. He thanked them for their love, support and examples he followed.

“I have had the honor of serving with countless professional and personal lessons. I’ve have had subordinates that have humbled me with their hard work, and I have had leaders that have made me better by demanding my best and making me a professional,” said Collier.

He then said he was honored to be given the responsibility of command, and said he will do all he can to serve the sailors of NOSC Whidbey Island, the United States Navy and this nation.