LtCol Aaron K. Polanco grew up in Wimberley, Texas. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in May 2005, earning his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. After completion of The Basic School and Naval Flight Training, he reported to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Training Squadron (HMLA/T) 303, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Camp Pendleton, California for AH-1W SuperCobra training.
LtCol Polanco completed AH-1W SuperCobra training in April 2009 and reported to the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 367 “Scarface,” MCAS Camp Pendleton, where he served as Flightline Officer-In-Charge and various other billets deploying in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM from October 2009 to May 2010. In September of 2011, LtCol Polanco continued his duties as an AH-1W instructor pilot and graduated from the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron (MAWTS) ONE Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) Course. In June of 2012, LtCol Polanco helped relocate HMLA-367, as the Assistant Operations Officer, from MCAS Camp Pendleton, California to MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. He then deployed as Assistant Operations Officer for VMM-262 supporting 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit operations in the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility from May through November 2014. In July of 2015, LtCol Polanco reported to MAWTS-1 in Yuma, Arizona for duties as an AH-1W instructor pilot. While at MAWTS-1, LtCol Polanco served as AH-1W Division Head, Operations Department, External Air Support Coordinator, and Assault Support Department (ASD) Head.
Upon completion at MAWTS-1, LtCol Polanco returned to MCAS Camp Pendleton, California in June 2018 as the Department of Safety and Standardization (DOSS) for HMLA-369 and conversion to the AH-1Z. In December of 2018, LtCol Polanco was the Aviation Maintenance Officer of 32 H-1 aircraft at the unit’s peak. He deployed in support of Unit Deployment Program (UDP) 20.1 to Okinawa, Japan and was the lead HMLA planner for Northern Viper 2020, a bi-lateral exercise with Japanese Self-Defense Forces. Upon return from UDP 20.1, LtCol Polanco became the Executive Officer during the subsequent redeployment of the squadron from Okinawa, Japan.
In January 2021, LtCol Polanco executed orders to Washington D.C., where he served in Current Operations at Plans, Policies, and Operations, Headquarters Marine Corps. His daily duties included Global Force Management for active and reserve Marine Corps forces and integrated daily with Joint Staff matters pertaining to military operations. In April 2022, LtCol Polanco reported to MAG-39 Headquarters until he assumed his current duties as Commanding Officer, HMLA-369 on 24 June 2022, returning home to the “Gunfighters”.
LtCol Polanco is married to the former Danika Denzer of The Woodlands, TX; they have three children Bentley Rae (4), Audrey (3), Lily (16 months), with a fourth girl due in August 2022.
LtCol Polanco has held qualifications in the AH-1W and AH-1Z. His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal (gold star in lieu of second award), Air Medal Strike-Flight with numeral “4”, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (gold star in lieu of second award), and various unit and campaign awards.