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Command Biography
VMFA-542 Commanding Officer
Lieutenant Colonel Brian C. Hansell

Lieutenant Colonel Brian Hansell grew up outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the Pennsylvania State University in December of 2004 with a degree in Computer Engineering. He attended Officer Candidate School in January of 2005. After completion of The Basic School and Naval Flight Training, he reported to VFA-125, Lemoore, CA for F/A-18 Hornet training.

Lieutenant Colonel Hansell completed F/A-18 Hornet training in 2010 and reported to the VMFA-122 “Crusaders,” where he served in various assignments. He deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and to Iwakuni, Japan as part of the Unit Deployment Program. Lieutenant Colonel Hansell surpassed 1,000 flight hours in the F/A-18 and graduated from Marine Division Tactics Course (MDTC) and Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) Course during his time with VMFA-122.

Lieutenant Colonel Hansell reported to VMFAT-501, Eglin, FL in 2014 and completed F-35B Lightning II transition training shortly thereafter. He stayed on staff with VMFAT-501, serving in various assignments to include the Pilot Training Officer of the “Warlords.” 

In May of 2017, Lieutenant Colonel Hansell reported to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1), where he was responsible for the development and instruction of air-to-air employment tactics for the F-35. He served in various assignments, to include the F-35 Division Head. While serving at MAWTS-1, Lieutenant Colonel Hansell augmented VMFT-401 as a Marine adversary pilot, flying the F-5N Tiger II. His accomplishments at MAWTS-1 include the development of multi-service air control communication standards, the extension of the WTI curriculum for F-35 pilots, CNAF authorization for lights-out training at night for TACAIR pilots, and continued tactics
development in close coordination with both the USAF and USN weapons schools.

Lieutenant Colonel Hansell reported to Headquarters Marine Corps Aviation, Washington, DC in July of 2020 to serve as the F-35 Transition Task Force Lead. While there, he oversaw the planning and resourcing of the TACAIR transition to F-35, assisted with the prioritization and development of future F-35 capabilities, and served as an F-35 subject matter expert across multiple departments.

In July of 2022, Lieutenant Colonel Hansell reported to MAG-14 to begin the standup of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 542, the first F-35 fleet squadron on the east coast. Lieutenant Colonel Hansell assumed command in August 2023 when the squadron achieved initial Safe For Flight certification.

Lieutenant Colonel Hansell has held the highest tactical qualifications in both the F/A-18 and F-35. His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal/Strike Flight Numeral 5, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (second award), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various unit and campaign awards.

2nd Marine Aircraft Wing