PEARL HARBOR - Rear Admiral John W. Korka relieved Rear Admiral Bret Muilenburg as commander of Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Pacific during a change of command ceremony today at NAVFAC Pacific headquarters.
Korka will assume command of approximately 4,000 military and civilian men and women who work for NAVFAC Pacific and its three Facilities Engineering Commands in Hawaii, Guam and Japan and will also serve as the U.S. Pacific Fleet Civil Engineer. Muilenburg is the prospective commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command and chief of civil engineers for the Navy, headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Current NAVFAC commander and chief of civil engineers Rear Adm. Kate Gregory delivered the keynote address, welcoming Korka to his new command and praising Muilenburg for the sacrifices he’s made to serve in the Pacific. Gregory acknowledged Muilenburg for building relationships not only with supported commands, but “also with our regulatory, political and other organizational partners to show them we act in a responsible way.”
Gregory also noticed the words she felt were very common among the work force when speaking of Muilenburg, hearing “patience, humility, balance and a community of trust.”
Muilenburg will relieve Gregory in a NAVFAC headquarters change of command ceremony scheduled for Nov. 4 in Washington, D.C.
To welcome Korka to his new position of responsibility, Gregory reassured him that “you’re going to do a terrific job here with this ohana.”
Upon assuming command, Korka began with the traditional “aloha.” Following the response from the audience, he said “I’ve always wanted to say that.” In his brief address, Korka said he is “deeply honored to be chosen as the commander of NAVFAC Pacific and as the Pacific Fleet civil engineer.” He thanked Muilenburg for the excellent transition and said “I am grateful he is turning over to me a very capable and dedicated team.”
This is Korka’s first assignment in Hawaii. He is the son of a Master Chief Petty Officer, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Old Dominion University in 1986 and commissioned an Ensign through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program. He holds a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, a Master of Science in National Strategy Resources from the National Defense University Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and is a graduate of the Executive Advance Management Program at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.
Korka’s operational tours include electrical officer, USS Sylvania (AFS-2); company commander/officer-in-charge Detail Souda Bay, U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133; operations officer, NMCB 1; and commanding officer, NMCB 4. He also served as the commodore of the 31st Seabee Readiness Group--the Pacific Fleet Seabees.
His shore assignments include assistant Resident Officer in Charge of Construction, Norfolk Naval Shipyard; Facilities Engineering department head, Public Works Center, Guam; Military Construction and Energy program officer, Office of Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Fleet Readiness and Logistics); executive assistant to the commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Headquarters and Chief of Civil Engineers; executive officer, NAVFAC Europe and Southwest Asia; and director, Maritime Headquarters, NECC/NECCPAC. He commanded Officer in Charge of Construction, Bethesda; Naval Facilities Engineering Logistics Center, Port Hueneme; and NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic.
Korka is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Virginia, a member of the Defense Acquisition Corps and qualified as a Seabee Combat Warfare and Surface Warfare officer. His personal decorations include the Legion of Merit (4 awards), Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (4 awards), and other personal, service, unit and campaign awards. He also received the 1997 Society of American Military Engineers’ Admiral Ben Moreell Medal for his leadership and engineering contributions in support of Operation Joint Endeavor while deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Muilenburg, a familiar face around the Navy community in Hawaii, also served with Commander, Pacific Fleet (COMPACFLT) as a staff member; chief of staff for Commander, Navy Region Hawaii (CNRH), and commanding officer of NAVFAC Hawaii.
“After the better part of seven years, it’s time to say ‘aloha,’” Muilenburg said, and that “it will be hard to leave the aina and its people.”
He thanked representatives of the various supported commands in the audience, but told them “those who mean the most to me today are those in the NAVFAC ohana.” He specifically mentioned the facility engineering commands (NAVFAC Hawaii, NAVFAC Far East, and NAVFAC Marianas) because “you do the hard work.”
A native of Titusville, Fla., Muilenburg was commissioned a Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) officer after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1984. His extensive educational background includes a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering, Master of Science Degree in Engineering Management from George Washington University, and Master of Science Degree in Environmental Engineering and Science from Stanford University. In addition, Muilenburg completed the Executive Education Advanced Program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.
He is a qualified Seabee Combat Warfare (SCW) Officer and his operational tours of duty include assignments with Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCB) 62, 133 and 7, along with the 30th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR). Prior to reporting to PACFLT in 2012, Muilenburg served as commodore, 30th NCR; commander, Task Force Forager and theater engineers for International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Joint Command in Afghanistan.
Muilenburg is a registered professional engineer in Virginia, a member of the Defense Acquisition Corps and his personal awards include Legion of Merit (three awards), Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), Navy Commendation Medal (two awards), Army Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, and the Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe Environmental Quality Award.