Easton Native Assumes Command as Commanding Officer of Naval Magazine Indian Island During Ceremony

Story by Julianne Stanford, Commander, Navy Region Northwest


PORT HADLOCK, Wash., – Cmdr. Andrew C. Crouse relieved Cmdr. Donald W. Emerson as Commanding Officer of Naval Magazine Indian Island during a change of command ceremony held on the installation’s pier on Thursday, June 24, 2021.

A crowd of installation personnel, family and friends gathered on the installation’s pier to observe this time-honored Navy tradition where command is transferred from one officer to another.

Emerson assumed command of Naval Magazine Indian Island and Navy Munitions Command Pacific CONUS West Division Unit Indian Island on June 28, 2019.

“Our team is a small, highly skilled and dedicated team and it has been an absolute pleasure working with all of you,” Emerson said.

Commander, Navy Region Northwest, Rear Adm. Brad Collins served as the guest speaker for the ceremony.

“Don and team, you should all be extremely proud of everything you’ve done over the last two years,” Collins said.

The Indian Island team safely handled more than 85,000 tons of conventional ordnance and supported 48 vessels at the installation’s pier without any significant issues during Emerson’s two years in command.

“I’m so proud of everything we have accomplished together during this time,” Emerson said. “From safely and effectively supporting every Navy, Joint and Allied ship that came to our pier; completing mission-critical infrastructure upgrades; supporting community-led environmental restoration efforts; to successfully implementing measures to protect the health of everyone who works at this installation during the pandemic.”

Within the past two years, the Navy has recognized the Indian Island team for their dedication to supporting the Fleet and for being good stewards of the environment. Indian Island was the recipient of the 2020 Commander, Navy Installation Command Installation Excellence Award for small non-industrial installations and the 2019 Secretary of the Navy Environmental Award for sustainability.

Collins presented Emerson with a Meritorious Service Medal for his outstanding service as Commanding Officer of Naval Magazine Indian Island.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that Don will approach his new role with the same integrity, motivation, and dedication that allowed him to successfully command the team here at Indian Island,” Collins said.

Emerson, a native of Great Bend, Pennsylvania, graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering. He reported to flight school and earned his wings in December 2004.

Emerson has more than 2,400 flight hours in both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. His personal awards include a Meritorious Service Medal, an Air Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (three awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various unit and campaign awards.

Emerson’s next assignment will be on USS Makin Island (LHD 8) based out of San Diego, California.

Cmdr. Crouse assumed command of the installation upon reading his orders in front of the crowd.

“I am confident that Andrew’s experiences and skills will serve him well in this new role,” Collins said. “I know he has a great team of professionals right by his side to help him succeed.”

Crouse, a native of Easton, Missouri, was commissioned through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) at the University of Missouri after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Systems Management in 2005. Upon graduation, he reported to Naval Air Station Pensacola to begin flight training and he was designated an E-2 Hawkeye Naval Flight Officer in 2008.

Crouse most recently reported to U.S. Strategic Command in May 2019 and served as a Cyber Watch Officer and Global Network Operations Control Center Deputy Branch Chief.

Crouse has logged over 2,000 flight hours in the E-2 Hawkeye. His awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Strike/Flight Air Medal, Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and numerous other campaign and unit awards.

“To the NAVMAG Indian Island team, I am truly honored to be joining such a great team on an installation so rich in history,” Crouse said.

Naval Magazine Indian Island is the U.S. Navy’s only deep-water ammunition port on the West Coast. Its 1,600-foot pier can handle the largest Navy and commercial vessels afloat. The 2,700-acre island is also home to the Department of Defense’s largest ordnance storage site on the West Coast with more than 100 magazines that store conventional munitions ranging from small arms ammunition to aircraft ordnance to ship-launched missiles.

An average of 50 vessels stop at the island each year, including aircraft carriers, guided-missile destroyers, guided-missile submarines, ammo ships, U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats, Military Sealift Command vessels, and commercial barges and container ships.

Photo By Petty Officer 3rd Class Emilia Hilliard | Cmdr. Andrew Crouse, incoming commanding officer, Naval Magazine Indian Island, renders a hand salute after walking through sideboys during a change of command ceremony at NMII in Port Hadlock, Washington June 24, 2021. During the ceremony, Crouse relieved Cmdr. Don Emerson as commanding officer of NMII. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Emilia C. Hilliard)