USAMRDC's Col. Andrew Kim Retires After Two-Decade Career in Military Medicine
Friends, family and colleagues bid farewell to Medical Research and Development Command's Deputy Commanding Officer Col. Andrew Kim Jan. 26 during a ceremony at MRDC headquarters at Fort Detrick that highlighted his nearly three decades of military service to the nation.
Kim served five years in the U.S. Navy and 23 years in the Army. He became MRDC's deputy commanding officer in 2021. In that role, he was responsible for managing processes that ensured accountability for over more than 300 program areas totaling over $2.6 billion annually.
"In this senior leadership position, Andy shared his vast knowledge and insights to help the commanding general and other senior leaders make informed decisions," said Col. Christopher Todd, MRDC's chief of staff. "This has been a perfect role for Andy. He was a positive influence on thousands of Soldiers, civilians and contractors."
Kim also served as the command's senior research and technology advisor, where he consulted on matters related to clinical trials and educated senior leaders on a wide range of medical topics. One of Kim's proudest accomplishments in this role was his success in doubling the participation of senior leaders from other organizations in the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research, a consortium of federal research agencies dedicated to sharing technical expertise and scientific services in collaborative projects.
During his tenure as MRDC deputy commanding officer Kim played a key role in the command's transition to the Defense Health Agency, advocating for the civilian workforce and ensuring that physician researcher salaries remained competitive.
"His actions, in combination with his ability to build morale, have contributed to a low turnover rate within our civilian staff," Todd said. "By putting people first, he has helped our hiring process remain consistent and aggressive."
In his remarks, Kim stressed the importance of teamwork in ensuring the success of organizations tasked with accomplishing complex missions.
"It is important to repeat what I've been told by my mentors throughout the years, that the organization is only as strong as the people who are motivated to love the organization that they're in," Kim said. "In the institution of the military, were seeking something greater than ourselves."
Kim credited the nation's dedication to the greater cause of democracy for saving the lives of his family during the Korean War.
"Our genetic pool exists today because 38,000 Americans died for us," said Kim, a first-generation Korean American. "My father was truly grateful to the Lord upstairs when, in 1950, Americans decided through President Truman to fight. Many died over three years so that my family and my in-laws would have a chance at life thereafter. If that decision had never taken place, I'm pretty sure my family would have become enemies of the state overnight."
"America represents the best of the best regardless of what our personal or individual political preferences may be," Kim added. "The ideals that this nation came forth from in 1776, we need to cherish that as a people and as individuals and as families because it's not free, folks. It's not free."
During the ceremony Todd presented Kim with the Legion of Merit in recognition of his contributions to the command, particularly his efforts to guide the command through its largest organizational change since 1973. His retirement award cited his success in improving the command's financial and business processes as well as his efforts to safeguard the workforce and mission-critical resources such as the Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratory.
Prior to serving as MRDC's deputy commanding officer and senior research and technology advisor, Kim served as deputy chief of staff for public health for Army Medical Command and as a special assistant to the Army Surgeon General during the coronavirus pandemic. Other postings include chief medical officer of National Defense University, command surgeon for Army Materiel Command, division surgeon for the Second Infantry Division and chief medical officer and nuclear surety inspector for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
Kim has a doctorate in osteopathic medicine from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, a Master of Public Health degree from the Uniformed Service University, a Master of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri and a Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University. Since 2018, he has served as an assistant clinical professor at the Uniformed Services University.
Prior to medical school Kim graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served five years in the U.S. Navy, where he completed the Naval Nuclear Propulsion School Program and qualified as a Naval Nuclear Engineer Officer. He served as a combat information center officer and electrical division officer aboard the guided missile cruiser USS Truxtun (CGN-35) during two deployments in the western Pacific.
In closing, Kim recalled a lesson he learned from Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, the 45th Surgeon General of the United States Army, while Kim was serving as the chief medical officer and command surgeon at the National Defense University.
"He said, 'Andy, just remember this. In the Army, you can be replaced,'" Kim recalled. "What he meant by that was the team is more important than an individual. And because the team is so strong, being replaced just means the team gets better."