As an athletic high school student in the 1980s, Jacquelyn McClelland landed at Temple on an athletic scholarship for tennis.
Now, McClelland, a 1987 accounting alumna, takes her skills in teamwork to oversee more than 29,000 active duty and reserve soldiers along the East and West coasts as a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy and commander of the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group. She was promoted to the position during a change of command ceremony at the group’s headquarters in Williamsburg, Virginia, on Oct 5.
“It’s very exciting, you know, at the same time, it’s a pretty big responsibility, and because of that, I take everything seriously,” she said.
The change of command ceremony is the U.S. Navy’s official tradition to move from one commanding officer to another, said William Parker, chief mass communications specialist. “It’s done in front of the entire ship’s crew normally, so it’s something that we do nowadays to keep that tradition alive.”
At the ceremony, McClelland took over for previous commander, Rear Adm. Alan Reyes, who served in the position for two years.
“[Reyes] has set me up for success, and I’m just going to try and raise the bar even higher,” McClelland said. “I’ve got big shoes to fill when it comes to that, but I’m ready for the challenge.”
NAVELSG provides cargo transportation to deployed troops during peacetime and times of conflict to ensure that fuel, food and other necessary supplies reach U.S. Navy sailors worldwide. It began during World War II, where U.S. troops occupied various strategic islands in the Pacific Ocean, Parker said.
Out of 10 ranks of officers in the Navy, with the highest number ranking signifying greater responsibility, McClelland is an 07 officer, Parker said.
By taking command of NAVELSG, she’s gained responsibility for seven battalions of soldiers that constitute the organization, he added.
NAVELSG’s job can help assure troops are able to fly in quickly and transport equipment over shorter distances, like they did in Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War, said Gregory Urwin, a history professor.
“It is a matter of making sure that American forces are ready to strike at many different points around the world as quickly as possible,” Urwin said. “Because in war, especially if you’re a victim of aggression, if you’re attacked by an enemy that’s already prepared, survival and success depends on how quickly you restock.”
McClelland began serving in the U.S. Navy in the direct commission program after meeting people who served in the military at her post-grad job at an asset management company in Washington, D.C. She said her experience in finance made her a good candidate for the program to organize fleet shipments.
“I had some friends that were active duty and supporting reserves, and one of their commanding officers recommended, based on my background, that I would be a good candidate for the direct commission program, so on a whim I said ‘Why not?’” she said.
McClelland was accepted into the program and began as a naval supply corps designator in 1990, before becoming a supply corps officer.
She said both her finance and sports backgrounds helped prepare her for this field of work, and she hopes to build on Reyes’s work.
“We have sailors around the world who are doing great things to support all the missions that we have going on, and like me, they have a story as well, and they’re the folks that I’m honored to lead and serve alongside with,” she said.