Rear Adm. Mark Schafer, center, greets the Chief of the United States Forces Korea, Army General Paul LaCamera, after assuming command of the Korean Naval Forces in Busan, South Korea, September 29, 2021. The outgoing commander, l ‘Rear Adm. Michael “Buzz” Donnelly, stands on the left. (Michael Chen / US Navy)
A Navy special warfare officer and former director of operations for the Joint Special Operations Command took over U.S. naval assets on the Korean Peninsula.
Rear Admiral Mark Schafer, a Navy SEAL, became the last commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea on Wednesday, replacing Rear Admiral Buzz Donnelly, a former aircraft carrier commander who held the post for two years.
“I am delighted and honored to carry on the legacy of this command and its rich history dating back to its inception in July 1957,” Schafer said during the ceremony at the South Korean Navy Headquarters, according to a press release. “The superiority of the combined team is a testament to Rear Admiral Donnelly’s leadership.
In his leaving remarks, Donnelly said he “could not have asked for a more rewarding professional or personal experience here in Korea,” the statement said. He was awarded the Legion of Merit at the change of command ceremony by the Commander of the United States Forces in Korea, General Paul LaCamera.
“I have confidence in the team that Rear Admiral Schafer inherits and I am excited about what the future holds for the Forces and Regions teams under his leadership,” said Donnelly.
Schafer represents all Navy assets on the Korean Peninsula and acts as a liaison between the navies of the two allies. The New York native graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1994 and served with SEAL Team 2, SEAL Team 4, and the Naval Special Warfare Development Group.
About 28,500 US troops are stationed in South Korea. The US Navy has a facility on the peninsula, Chinhae Naval Base, near Busan on the south coast. About 300 people are affected there.