Commanding Officer, Marine Air Support Squadron 3
Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas J. Cruz

Lieutenant Colonel Cruz was promoted to his current rank in October 2020. He was most recently assigned as the Operations Officer, Marine Air Control Group 48, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois.


Lieutenant Colonel Cruz graduated from North Carolina Central University in May 2002 and was later commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in March 2004. Upon completion of Air Defense Control Officer Course, Lieutenant Colonel Cruz was assigned to the Early Warning and Control Detachment, Marine Air Control Squadron 1 (Reinforced), Marine Air Control Group 38, MCAS Miramar where he was the Operations Platoon Commander and later Company Commander. This included a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008 to Al Anbar Province, Iraq.


He was next assigned to the Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California from August 2009 to February 2012. His billets included Air Defense Training Section Officer-in-Charge, Company Executive Officer, and Company Commander.


Lieutenant Colonel Cruz was reassigned to the Early Warning and Control Detachment, Marine Air Control Squadron 1 (Reinforced), as Company Commander from February 2012 to March 2014. This included a deployment to Camp Leatherneck, Helmand Province, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.


Next, Lieutenant Colonel Cruz was selected as the USMC Air Defense Exchange Officer to the United States Air Force, serving with the 729th Air Control Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah from March 2014 to July 2016. During this assignment, Lieutenant Colonel Cruz served as the Chief of Weapons and Tactics, Chief of Operations Planning and Exercises, and Assistant Director of Operations. This included two deployments to Southwest Asia in support of Operations Inherent Resolve, Enduring Freedom and the Resolute Support Mission, and the Combined Defense of the Arabian Gulf.


Lieutenant Colonel Cruz checked into Marine Tactical Air Command Squadron 38 in June 2017 and deployed as the United States Marine Forces Central Command’s Deputy Marine Liaison Officer to the Combined Forces Air Component Commander at the Combined Air Operations Center, Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar, from August 2017 to February 2018. Upon redeployment, he assumed duties as the Squadron Executive Officer (XO) from May 2018 to July 2019. Once his XO tour was complete, Lieutenant Colonel Cruz was selected to serve as the Marine Air Control Group Detachment Officer-in-Charge, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 (Reinforced), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit for the 19.2 Western Pacific Deployment, returning in November 2019. Upon redeployment, he served as the Marine Air Control Group 38 Future Plans Officer until his transfer in July 2020.


Lieutenant Colonel Cruz holds a B.A. in Political Science from North Carolina Central University, an M.A. in Leadership and Management Studies from the University of Texas at El Paso, and a Master’s in Military Arts & Science in History from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He completed the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff Officer Course, in residence, as an Irregular Warfare Scholar. He is also an honor graduate of the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery Captain Career Course, in residence, and a graduate of the USMC Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course.


His personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with two Gold Stars in lieu of third award, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with three Gold Stars in lieu of fourth award, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.


He has been married to his wife Ashley since 2004 and they have two girls, Addison and Brynnan.