LtCol Walter “Snooki” Cunningham was commissioned through the University of South Carolina Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps on 12 May 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in business management.
LtCol Cunningham checked into The Basic School in November 2007 and was assigned to First Platoon, Charlie Company. While at The Basic School LtCol Cunningham passed the Initial Flight Screening (IFS), and was selected to attend Naval Aviation Training following The Basic School. LtCol Cunningham attended Aviation Pre-Indoctrination (API) in Pensacola, FL from October to November 2008. After completing API LtCol Cunningham completed primary and intermediate flight training with Fixed Wing Training Squadron 2 at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, FL then advanced helicopter training with Helicopter Training Squadron 8 at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, FL. LtCol Cunningham was designated a Naval Aviator on 13 August 2010. On route to his first fleet squadron, LtCol Cunningham attended the CH-53E Fleet Replacement Squadron Marine Heavy Helicopter Training Squadron (HMHT) 302 on board MCAS New River, NC and completed Survival Evasion Resist and Escape (SERE) School in Coronado and Bridgeport, CA.
In April 2011, LtCol Cunningham checked into Marine Aircraft Group 29 (MAG-29), Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH)-464, MCAS New River, NC. While at HMH-464, LtCol Cunningham served as a Current Operations Officer, Adjutant, Logistics Officer, and Flight Line Officer in Charge (OIC). LtCol Cunningham deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) (January – September 2012) and executed an individual augment (IA) with 2D Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) FWD, RC(SW), Afghanistan as the Air Tasking Order (ATO) OIC. After his tenure at HMH-464, LtCol Cunningham attended Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Atlantic’s (EWTGLANT) Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Course, graduating as a certified Forward Air Controller (FAC). Following TACP School, LtCol Cunningham was assigned to II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF), 2D Marine Regiment, 3D Infantry Battalion, Camp Lejeune, NC where he served as the Air Officer executing Integrated Training Exercise 1-15 and a Unit Deployment Program (UDP) to Camp Schwab, Okinawa. On UDP LtCol Cunningham executed exercises in Okinawa, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines. Upon completion of his Air Officer tour, LtCol Cunningham departed Camp Lejeune for his assignment as the TACP and Assault Support Evaluator at Tactical Training and Exercise Control Group (TTECG); checking in July 2015. LtCol Cunningham graduated the Air Officer Division (AOD) Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) Course 1-17 in October of 2016. LtCol Cunningham would eventually rise to be the Assistant Air Officer, TTECG in January 2017. After instructing and controlling 15 Integrated Training Exercises, LtCol Cunningham departed TTECG in June of 2018 to return to MAG-29. LtCol Cunningham was then assigned to be the Air Officer of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force, Crisis Response AFRICOM (SPMAGTF-CR-AF) 19.1 in July of 2018. LtCol Cunningham deployed in September of 2018 and returned March of 2019, having executed several named operations and multiple exercises in over 17 countries throughout Europe and Africa. In July of 2019, Maj Cunningham joined HMH-366 located on board Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River, NC serving as the Director of Safety and Standardization, Executive Officer, and Operations officer during multiple exercises and deployments. HMH-366 would be awarded Heavy Lift Squadron of the year as LtCol Cunningham would be selected by Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARFORSOC) to be an Air Officer in special operations. In July of 2022 LtCol Cunningham assumed the duties of Air Officer for Marine Raider Training Center, MARFORSOC and instructed future Marine Raiders during Individual Training Courses (ITC). In June of 2023 LtCol Cunningham accepted orders back to his home command of MAG-29, this time assuming the duties as the MAG Executive Officer where he currently serves.
His personal decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (x4) and Navy and a Marine Corps Achievement Medal.