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Capt. Jeffry A. Sandin relieved Capt. Erik M. Thors as commanding officer during a virtual ceremony held on the USS Trayer and broadcast through the RTC Facebook page.
Thors, a native of Pacifica, California, assumed command in July 2018. During his tenure, he was responsible for ensuring the beginning of the training pipeline produced qualified and basically trained Sailors ready to man the fleet. He also established the Navy’s Warrior Toughness Program at RTC, which has since been applied Navy wide.
Numerous training improvements, policies, and programs were implemented under Thors’ term to create a lasting culture of trust and respect. Many efforts he championed and initiated will come to fruition well into Sandin’s tenure.
Rear Adm. Jamie Sands, commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), was the guest speaker and presiding officer for the ceremony and expressed his gratitude for the job done by Thors.
“You have been a historic RTC commander. Following the collisions aboard the USS McCain and USS Fitzgerald and the Navy’s comprehensive review, you transformed the curriculum and mindset of RTC,” said Sands. “You recognized the importance of your mission and its direct connection to the warfighting readiness of the entire Navy. Roughly 120,000 young men and women have cross the quarterdeck at RTC, the quarterdeck of the Navy since you took command three years ago. Every one of them has been influenced and advantaged by your vision and your leadership. You have quite literally improved the warfighting readiness of the fleet — it will no doubt be your greatest legacy.”
During the ceremony, Thors thanked many people, commands, and organizations that helped him during his three years as commanding officer, but highlighted his family as his strongest support.
“To my wife, Melissa, who was completely vested in the RTC mission and in taking care of me — from attending every graduation for a year and a half before COVID to being the sounding board for my frustrations —your support is in itself a service to the nation,” said Thors. “To my children, now all adults and making their way, thank you for your continued support and understanding. As we move to the next adventure, which by the way is not retirement, I look forward to sharing time together amidst ever busying lives.”
Thors also highlighted the hard work of the Sailors he was able to lead during his time as commanding officer.
“To my Sailors, my shipmates, and fellow warriors, thank you for getting it done through some of the most difficult times we have faced as a Navy. You accomplished and continue to achieve greatness,” said Thors. “Your grit and determination in the face of extreme risk to force and mission represent exactly that of the Sailor’s Creed, the fighting spirit of the Navy. I am humbled to have led you, privileged to work alongside you and proud to call you shipmate.”
Sands welcomed Sandin to the NSTC family and to RTC and spoke about his preparations to take command and the phenomenal opportunities at RTC.
“I have been tremendously impressed with the focus and deliberate methodology you have used to ensure you are well prepared to assume command today,” said Sands. “You are a complete professional. Today the mantle of responsibility for this great command will be under your charge.”
Sandin, a native of Bloomville, New York, enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1986. He graduated in 2003 from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business management and graduated in 2016 from Regent University with a Master of Arts degree in organizational leadership. He was commissioned in 1997 through the Limited Duty Officer Program.
Sandin assumed command during a dynamic time, as RTC continues to train recruits during the COVID-19 pandemic while protecting the health and well-being of recruits and staff members.
Boot camp is approximately eight weeks and all enlistees into the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting and shipboard damage control along with lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. More than 40,000 recruits train annually at the Navy’s only boot camp.
Lt. Kristina Wiedemann, Recruit Training Command Public Affairs