Lieutenant Colonel John Dirk was born in Fort Worth, Texas. He is a 2002 graduate of the United States Naval Academy where he was a Trident Scholar and conducted independent research into the effects of radiation on microelectronics. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the USMCR in May 2002.
Lt. Col. Dirk completed The Basic School with E Company and proceeded to Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola, Florida for training to become a Naval Aviator. He conducted Primary Flight Training with VT-27 in Corpus Christi, Texas and Advanced Strike Training with VT-22 in Kingsville, Texas. In Feb 2005 Lt. Col. Dirk was designated a Naval Aviator and proceeded to Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 in Cherry Point North Carolina as an AV-8B Harrier Replacement Pilot.
Upon completion of Harrier Training, Lt. Col. Dirk was assigned to Marine Attack Squadron 214, Marine Aircraft Group 13 in Yuma, Arizona. During this tour Lt. Col. Dirk deployed twice with VMA-214: once for one year in support of the Unit Deployment Program to Japan, and once as part of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (REIN) in support of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. He served variously as the squadron’s Landing Signal Officer, scheduling officer, future operations officer, intelligence officer, and communications officer.
From VMA-214 Lt. Col. Dirk was selected to attend Expeditionary Warfare School in Quantico, Virginia. Upon completion Lt. Col. Dirk returned to VMA-214 to serve as the logistics officer. In spring 2011 Lt. Col. Dirk attended the Marine Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1, Weapons and Tactics Instructor course and was designated a Weapons and Tactics Instructor. In November 2011 Lt. Col. Dirk deployed as the AV-8B Pilot Training Officer / Training Landing Signal Officer for Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 (REIN) and deployed with the squadron in support of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit to Central Command.
In 2013 Lt. Col. Dirk was selected to attend the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School with class 145. In 2014 he graduated from Engineering Test Pilot course as the Sydney Sherby Leadership Award winner. As a test pilot in the F-35 Integrated Test Force, Lt. Col. Dirk served as Test Pilot, Landing Signal Officer, and Project Officer for the final F-35B ship trial aboard USS America. Additionally, he supported cross disciplinary high risk testing in the areas of aerial refueling, weapons separation, gun fire, STOVL flying qualities, ski-jump launches, structural loads, flutter, and noise and vibration testing.
Lt. Col. Dirk returned to the fleet in 2017 with an assignment to VMFA-211. In November of 2017 Lt. Col. Dirk became the Executive Officer of VMFA-122 during the squadron’s transition to the F-35B. Lt. Col. Dirk served with VMFA-122 through achievement of Initial Operational Capability including the squadron’s first Deployment for Training as an F-35 unit to Exercise Northern Lightning at Volk Field, Wisconsin.
Lt. Col. Dirk is a graduate of the Expeditionary Warfare School, the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course, and the Naval Test Pilot School. He holds a B.S. in Physics from the U.S. Naval Academy and an M.S.E.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. He was the 2017 National Defense Industrial Association USMC Military Tester of the Year.
LtCol Dirk is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, the National Eagle Scout Association, and the National Physics Honor Society. His personal awards include the Navy Commendation Medal with gold star and Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal with two gold stars. He has accumulated over 1800 hours and 260 shipboard landings in 24 aircraft models including all F-35 variants, F/A-18, AV-8B, JAS-39, and MIG-15.
LtCol Dirk is married to the former Elizabeth Johnson of New Philadelphia, Ohio. They have four children: John, Margaret, James, and Andrew.