Lieutenant Colonel A. J. Harrell is a native of Maryland. He completed Officer Candidate School in August 2001 and subsequently graduated from Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana. He was commissioned in January 2004. Lieutenant Colonel Harrell reported to The Basic School in April 2004, graduated with Charlie Company 3-04, and reported to flight school in Pensacola, Florida. He completed Pre-flight Indoctrination and was assigned to VT-2 in Milton, FL for Primary Flight Training. Lieutenant Colonel Harrell reported to Corpus Christi, TX for Multi-Engine Advanced Training in November 2005 and, upon successful completion of advanced training, earned his wings of gold in August 2006. He then attended the Air Force C-130 Center for Excellence in Little Rock, AR. After completing initial C-130 training there, Lieutenant Colonel Harrell reported for duty to VMGR-152 “Sumos” in Okinawa, Japan.
While assigned to VMGR-152, Lieutenant Colonel Harrell served as the Adjutant, Current Operations Officer, Loadmaster OIC, and Flight Duty Officer. He flew in support of Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines (OEF-P), Operation Sea Angel II, and a myriad of multi-national exercises including Talon Vision, Cobra Gold, Air Warrior, and Southern Canopy. Upon completion of his duties, Lieutenant Colonel Harrell reported to Expeditionary Warfare School, Quantico, VA in 2010. After graduating from EWS, Lieutenant Colonel Harrell was selected to represent the Marine Corps and Naval Aviation as a member of the Naval Flight Demonstration Squadron- Blue Angels. From 2012 to 2014 Lieutenant Colonel Harrell flew more than 200 flight demonstrations across the United States and Canada and advocated for Navy and Marine Corps aviation. He served the team in many capacities including Marine Detachment OIC. In 2014, Lieutenant Colonel Harrell was chosen to attend the Naval War College where he earned a Master’s Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. After graduation, Lieutenant Colonel Harrell reported to The Basic School in Quantico, VA.
While assigned to The Basic School, Lieutenant Colonel Harrell completed Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) School and became a qualified Forward Air Controller (FAC). He was assigned duties as the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Section Head. In January of 2017, Lieutenant Colonel Harrell was temporarily assigned to the Joint Task Force- National Capitol Region (JTF-NCR) in support of the Presidential Inauguration where he served as a Cabinet Member Military Assistant. In May of 2017, he was chosen to lead Company D 4-17 as the Commanding Officer. Upon successfully training the 300 Marine and partner nation officers of Delta Company, he was again selected to command as the Commanding Officer of Company I 1-18. In India Company, he led the training and instruction of more than 300 Warrant Officers.
In June of 2018, Lieutenant Colonel Harrell was assigned to VMGR 452 in Newburgh, NY. His prior experience as a KC130T pilot instructor in the fleet and with the Blue Angels made him an essential fit for the squadron during the deployment and transition to KC130J. He quickly regained his qualifications/designations in the aircraft as he assumed responsibilities as the squadron Operations Officer. In December of 2018, Lieutenant Colonel Harrell deployed in support of SPMAGTF CR-AF 19.1. Upon return from deployment, Lieutenant Colonel Harrell held billets as the Squadron OIC and NATOPS Evaluator for the KC130T program. In May 2021, the squadron successfully completed the transition to KC130J aircraft.
In July of 2021, Lieutenant Colonel Harrell assumed duties as the Executive Officer at Marine Aircraft Group 14.
Lieutenant Colonel Harrell’s decorations include 3 Meritorious Service Medals and a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.