Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Maj. Robert Masterson relinquished command of the Fort Leavenworth Dental Health Activity to Lt. Col. Dong Lee in a virtual ceremony that was released June 17 on the Munson Army Health Center Facebook page.
Because of COVID-19 safety precautions, the passing of the unit colors was replaced with salutes.
Masterson assumed command of Fort Leavenworth DENTAC in May 2018.
During Masterson’s time as commander, Smith Dental Clinic had the highest dental readiness — 99.8 percent — in the Dental Health Activity Central Region and a dental wellness high of 88 percent compared to the Department of Defense standard of 65 percent. The clinic was also active in the community, participating in Retiree Appreciation Day, National Children’s Health Month and Army Community Service’s Adopt-a-Family Program. Masterson also led the clinic through the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This unit’s success has a great deal to do with its leaders,” said Col. Susan Cebula, Fort Riley, Kan., Dental Health Activity commander. “Major Masterson had high standards. He pushed his staff hard, but he also knows his personnel and allows them to move the Fort Leavenworth Dental Clinic Command forward as a team and the team has excelled.
“I can’t thank you enough for your leadership, hard work and service to Fort Leavenworth and Army dentistry,” she said. “I learned a lot from you as a leader and have added some of your practices into my toolbox.”
Masterson said he is proud of the accomplishments of the clinic during his tenure, and said he is a better leader because of it.
“We have seen an amazing shift in the culture at the (dental clinic),” Masterson said. “I am leaving behind a team that helps each other, (a team) that cares for each other, soldiers that demonstrate selfless service on a daily basis, (and) staff that knows the dental profession and have the moral fortitude to do the right thing even when it is not the easy thing.
“I consider myself blessed to have had this opportunity,” he said. “Thanks again to everyone out there that had a hand in making our organization successful. I’ll always think of my time here fondly.”
Masterson’s next assignment is director of the two-year Advanced Education in General Dentistry Program at Fort Hood, Texas.
Lee enlisted in the U.S. Army out of high school and served for four-and-a-half years before leaving to pursue his educational goals. He earned his doctorate in medical dentistry in 2007 from the University of Nevada’s School of Dental Medicine in Las Vegas before commissioning back into the Army as a dental officer.
Lee’s previous assignments include dental officer at Joel Dental Clinic at Fort Bragg, N.C.; resident in the Advanced Education in Prosthodontics at Fort Gordon, Ga.; assistant professor of prosthodontics for the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.; instructor and mentor for the two-year Advanced Education in General Dentistry Program at Fort Hood; officer-in-charge of the Carius Specialty Dental Clinic at Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea; and Dental Health Activity-Korea chief of prosthodontics.
He graduated from the Command and General Staff Officer Course in 2020.
“I’ve heard nothing but great things about your (Lee’s) abilities and have no doubt you will bring great ideas and enthusiasm with you. All of you in the Fort Leavenworth Dental Clinic Command can feel confident that you are getting an outstanding new commander,” Cebula said. “(Lee), you were selected as a commander as a result of your leadership, your experience and based on your integrity, strength and ability to get things done. We’re looking forward to working with you, learning from you and can’t wait to see the tremendous things that you’ll do to continue to move this unit forward.”
Lee said he is happy to take command of Smith Dental Clinic.
“Last year when (my family and I) found out we were being selected for CGSOC, we were humbled and honored just to be part of this great American military tradition. Then, to find out that we’ll be staying here to be the new (Smith) Dental Clinic commander, we couldn’t be happier,” Lee said. “Then I saw the exceptional things that Smith Dental Clinic and the staff have accomplished under Major Masterson’s command, especially through all the fog and friction from the pandemic.
“I realized then that it would be extremely difficult to follow, but I look forward to and relish the challenge ahead,” he said. “I fully believe that attitude is key to success and try to remember that every day is a gift and to take full advantage of that gift. It is an honor to be here and an honor to serve.”