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Command Biographies
AV-8B FRD Commanding Officer
Lieutenant Colonel Derek A. Mills

LtCol Mills graduated and was commissioned in May 2006 from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics. He completed The Basic School in December 2006 and reported to NAS Pensacola, FL, for flight training. He was designated a Naval Aviator in August 2009 after completion of advanced training at NAS Kingsville, TX, and subsequently reported to VMAT-203 for AV-8B training.

After completing the AV-8B training syllabus, LtCol Mills was assigned to VMA-513 in August 2010 where he served as the Administration Officer and deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from May through November 2011. Upon return he became the Avionics Officer in Charge followed by the Quality Assurance Officer and was designated a Weapons and Tactics Officer. In December 2012 LtCol Mills deployed to the Western Pacific in support of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, returning in May 2013.

Upon LtCol Mills’ return, he was assigned to the AV-8B Fleet Replacement Squadron, VMAT-203, from July 2013 through June 2016 as an instructor pilot. While there he served in the operations department as the daily schedule writer, ground training officer, detachment planner, and Powerline Officer in Charge. LtCol Mills earned the Low Altitude Tactics Instructor designation and was selected as an exchange instructor pilot to the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force.

In June 2016, LtCol Mills reported to No. 4 (Army Cooperation) Tactics and Weapons Squadron at RAF Valley, Wales, as an instructor pilot on the Hawk T2. As the nation’s only advanced jet training squadron, LtCol Mills instructed the entirety of Royal Air Force and Royal Navy student pilots in the United Kingdom as well as many Middle Eastern countries. While there he served as the Officer in Charge for the squadron’s training detachment to Italy, was awarded the squadron’s top instructor trophy three times, and flew in the Royal Air Force’s centennial celebration in a 100 aircraft formation over Buckingham Palace.

In July 2019, LtCol Mills reported to VMA-542 and immediately assumed the duties of Aircraft Maintenance Officer until June 2020 when he assumed the Executive Officer billet. In October 2021, LtCol Mills assumed command of the AV-8B Fleet Replacement Detachment which ensures new AV-8B Harrier pilots are properly trained and ready to join the AV-8B fleet upon completion of the training syllabus.

LtCol Mills’ personal decorations include the Air Medal (3rd strike flight award), Navy Commendation Medal (2), and various campaign and service awards. He has flown the T-34C Turbo Mentor, T-45C Goshawk, AV-8B Harrier, and Hawk T2.

Marine Aircraft Group 14