Lieutenant Colonel Bijan Carl Derakhshan was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2004. He completed The Basic School, at Quantico, Virginia, and began Naval Aviator training in 2005.
After flight training in Florida, Texas, and California, he gained qualification as an F/A-18 Hornet pilot and relocated to Iwakuni, Japan, with VMFA(AW)-242 in 2008. During his four years with the Bats, he participated in numerous multinational and joint exercises across the Indo-Pacific, and completed the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center’s advanced study in Strike-Fighter Tactics and Employment at TOPGUN.
In 2012, Lieutenant Colonel Derakhshan reported to Miramar, California, to serve as an F/A-18 Instructor Pilot at the Fleet Replacement Squadron. While assigned to VMFAT-101, he was selected for transition to the F-35 Lightning II and began training at VMFAT-501 in 2014. He joined VMFA-121 in Yuma, Arizona, where the squadron became the first F-35 squadron in the Department of Defense to gain Initial Operational Capability in 2015. He relocated with the Green Knights to Iwakuni, Japan, in 2016, ushering in the first permanently forward deployed fifth generation fighter/attack squadron to the region. In 2018, he embarked upon the USS Wasp (LHD-1) in support of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit while attached VMM-262 (Reinforced). LtCol Derakhshan subsequently returned to Yuma in 2019, and served as the MAG-13 Operations Officer before transitioning to VMX-1. In additional to flight duties as an F-35 Operational Test Pilot, his responsibilities as the Aircraft Maintenance Officer included all maintenance activities in support of Operational Test and Evaluation of the MV-22B, UH-1Y, AH-1Z, F-35B, and RQ-21A. In July 2022, he transitioned to VMFA-122 to serve as the squadron’s Executive Officer for a 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployment to the United States Indo-Pacific Command Area of Responsibility onboard the USS Makin Island (LHD-8).
During his career, he attained over 2,600 flight hours in the T-34, T-45, F/A-18, and the F-35. He gained numerous flight qualifications and designations including Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor, F-35 Instructor Pilot, Mission Commander, Forward Air Controller (Airborne), and Low-Altitude Tactics Instructor. He also served in numerous collateral duty billets including Aircraft Maintenance Officer, Squadron and Group Operations Officer, Director of Safety and Standardization, and Executive Officer.
He has a Bachelor of Science from the United States Naval Academy, and a Master of Arts from New England College. As part of the Marine Corps’ professional military education curriculum, he completed Expeditionary Warfare School, Command and Staff College, and the United States Air Force’s Air War College.
His personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
Lieutenant Colonel Derakhshan assumed command of VMFA-122 in July, 2023. He lives in Yuma, Arizona, with his wife and two kids.