U.S. Marine Capt. Joshua Hazeldean has received the Alfred A. Cunningham Award as the Marine Aviator of the Year.
The 34-yeard old Vevay native is a pilot with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367.
Capt. Hazeldean was recommended for the award for superior performance of duties while serving as the Pilot Training Officer and AH-1Z pilot for Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367 Scarface, marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. While serving as lead AH-1Z Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI), he played a pivotal role planning and execution of eight separate Detachments for Training (DFTs) during the challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic.
In 2020, Capt. Hazeldean flew over 160 hours, 78 at night, and instructing over 83 training events. Despite the major setback of the cancellation of the MRF-D deployment and operating in a state with the most restrictive COVID 19 lockdown measures, his initiative and creativity allowed over 2500 hours flown. Officials credit him for his dynamic training evolutions from scratch that they recommended him for the award.
In March, due to COVID 19 pandemic constraints, the Marine Rotational Force Darwin (MRF-D) deployment was canceled for Scarface. Captain Hazeldean immediately began formulating an aggressive plan to capture the training that would be missed in Australia; maximizing proof of concept in the Hawaiian Island chain. He started with brokering a Letter of Agreement with Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) Range Control, allowing units to continue to train within the Hawaiian COVID 19 inter-island travel restrictions.
Capt. Hazeldean graduated College and accepted his commission in the Marine Corps in January 2012. He reported to the Basic School in June 2012. Captain Hazeldean graduated from The Basic School in June 2012. Captain Hazeldean graduated from The Basic School in Quantico, VA in December of 2012 and reported to NAS Pensacola to begin training as a Naval Aviator. In November of 2014, Captain Hazeldean was designated a Naval Aviator and selected AH-1W Cobras.
Capt. Hazeldean reported to HMLAT-303 in November 2014. In May of 2015, Captain Hazeldean completed training at the Fleet Replacement Squadron, earning the MOS of 7565. Captain Hazeldean then received orders to HMLA-367, were he served as a Daily Schedule Writer until May of 2016, then as a Weekly Scheduling Officer until November 2016, when he transferred to VMM-262 (REIN).
In 2016, Capt. Hazeldean attached to VMM-262 (REIN), where he deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unite (MEU) from November 2016 to May of 2017 as a NATOPS Officer. During this deployment, Captain Hazeldean supported exercise Cobra Gold, in Thailand and Pacific Amphibious Leaders Symposium (PALS) in South Korea.
Upon his return from the 31st MEU, Capt. Hazeldean returned to HMLA-367 as a NATOPS Officer for three months before returning back to HMLAT-303 to convert to the AH-1Z. In December of 2017, Captain Hazeldean completed Series Conversion Training and then attached to HMLA-367 as the S-6 Officer in Charge for fourteen months.
In February of 2019, following his tour at HMLA-367, he was transferred to VMM0363 (REIN) and deployed to Marine Rotational Force- Darwin (MRF-D), where he served as the Current Operations Officer until August 2019. During this deployment, Capt. Hazeldean Supported exercise Diamond Storm and Talisman Saber, in Australia.
Capt. Hazeldean attended Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) in September of 2019. Upon graduation QTI, He returned to HMLA-367 assuming the role of Pilot Training Officer (PTO). He and his wife Megan have three children; Carter, Sophie, and Violet who live together in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii