Newton Transfers, Andre Assumes Command of Naval Ophthalmic Support and Training Activity (NOSTRA)


Capt. Matthew E. Newton, former NOSTRA Commanding Officer, stands with new Commanding Officer Capt. Paul A. Andre and NMLC Commanding Officer, Mary S. Seymour.

YORKTOWN, Va. - Naval Ophthalmic Support and Training Activity (NOSTRA), the Department of Defense’s largest and leading optical fabrication laboratory, hosted a change of command ceremony here July 11, where Capt. Paul A. Andre relieved Capt. Matthew E. Newton as commanding officer.

Held at the Navy Cargo Handling Battalion ONE Auditorium at Cheatham Annex, the ceremony was attended by family members of the departing and incoming officers, students attending the Tri-Services Optician School, NOSTRA employees, and friends of the official party.

According to  DVIDS (Defense Video and Imagery Distribution Systems), Capt. Newton recapped a list of accomplishments credited to NOSTRA. “The name says it all. We provide optical fabrication support by fabricating military eyewear, prescription gas mask inserts and combat protective eyewear inserts,” he said to the audience. “We also train military opticians and optical fabricators -- I’m referring to the Tri-Services Optician School, also known as TOPS, the Department of Defense’s only training program for Opticians and Optical Fabrication Specialists.”

Capt. Newton explained that NOSTRA has trained jointly for nearly 20 years, setting a high standard for successful inter-service cooperation. “With Navy as the lead service for optical fabrication and the commanding officer of NOSTRA as the executor for the Military Health System Optical Fabrication Enterpriser Program, NOSTRA sets the pace for 27 Army and Navy labs worldwide. NOSTRA and its six east coast Detachments from Maryland to Florida are responsible for more than one third of the 1.7 million pairs of military eyewear produced by the Enterprise last year,” he explained.

NOSTRA is the only laboratory to deploy sailors and soldiers with mobile optical fabrication capability in support of National Guard and U.S. Navy Reserve missions, prefabricate eyewear for overseas humanitarian relief and medical civic action program missions. It is the only laboratory to produce eyewear for the Coast Guard, Public Health Service, NASA, NOAA, and other Federal agencies. It is also the only laboratory to produce eyewear for the G-Eyes Program in support of warfighters deployed in the combat theater.

“It has been my pleasure to serve and work here and I’m proud to have represented NOSTRA while working with the great professionals on our own staff and at these fine commands. And I’m especially proud of the fine work accomplished by the Army, Navy and Air Force representative on our Tri-Service Optical Fabrication Advisory Board,” Newton said.

With Newton’s departure, Capt. Paul A. Andre returns to NOSTRA, having departed NOSTRA 21 months earlier to be a staff doctor and department head at 29 Palms Naval Hospital, Calif., later selected to the rank of captain, according to DVIDS. Andre said, “I am only the second commanding officer ever to relieve the CO he was under as XO.”

The military ophthalmic program was established by the Navy Appropriation Act of 1942, authorizing funds for prescription eyewear to Navy and Marine Corps personnel serving abroad. In 1945, a program to provide prescription eyewear for all Navy personnel was introduced. In 1945, the Optical School at the U.S. Naval Medical Supply Depot was established in Brooklyn, NY. After several moves and expansions NOSTRA relocated to Yorktown, Va. in 1973. It is a subordinate command to the Naval Medical Logistics Command (NMLC), Navy Medicine’s center of logistics expertise, led by Capt. Mary S. Seymour.