Marine Aircraft Group 29


Marine Aircraft Group 29

MAG 29 Leaders
Matthew J. Gruba

HMH-461 Executive Officer

Major Gruba grew up in Norway, Maine. He graduated from McGill University with a Master of Business Administration degree, Finance Concentration, in 2001.

He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in March 2002 and graduated from The Basic School later that year. He completed flight training at Vance AFB, Oklahoma and NAS Whiting Field, Florida, earning designation as a Naval Aviator in 2004. He was subsequently trained as a Helicopter Second Pilot in the CH-53D Sea Stallion at HMT-301, MAG-24, MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

From 2005 to 2010, Major Gruba was a fleet pilot with HMH-362, the Ugly Angels, serving in various Safety, Operations, and Administration billets and as the Director of Safety and Standardization over the course of his tour. He deployed with the squadron in 2005 to MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan under the Unit Deployment Program, during which he was assigned to the 31st MEU Air Combat Element (ACE) and participated in the Philippines Bilateral Exercise aboard the USS Essex (LHD-2). He earned designation as a CH-53D Helicopter Aircraft Commander in 2006 and participated in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2006 in the Hawaiian Islands aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) and as an ACE battlestaff planner during Exercise ULCHI-FOCUS LENS in Pohang, Korea that same year.

In 2007, Major Gruba deployed with HMH-362 to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq in support of OIF 06-08.2 (MAG-29), where he served as a Section Leader and participated in numerous tactical missions during the 2007 troop surge, including pioneering Aeroscout operations throughout multiple Areas of Operation in support of MNF-W. He also developed an automated Assault Support Request tracker that has remained in regular use by general support aircrew in both combat theaters.

During 2008, Major Gruba earned several designations, including Night Systems Instructor, Aviation Safety Officer, Crew Resource Management Instructor, Defensive Measures Instructor, Weapons and Tactics Instructor, Assault Flight Leader, and Air Mission Commander. He participated in Exercise COBRA GOLD that summer in Thailand as part of the ACE battlestaff, and as the 1st MAW liaison officer for Operation CARING RESPONSE in support of Typhoon Nargis relief operations. Upon returning to Hawaii, he participated in RIMPAC 2008 aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard, serving as the flight leader for a large-scale heliborne raid with the Canadian Forces.

In 2009, Major Gruba returned to Al Asad, Iraq (MAG-26) with HMH-362 in support of OIF 09.1 before redeploying with the squadron from Al Asad to Kandahar Air Base (SPMAGTF-A) and Bastion Airfield, Afghanistan (MAG-40, MEB-A) during the same combat tour, While at Bastion, he served as the Assault Flight Leader for Operation KHANJAR, the largest Marine offensive airlift since the Vietnam era. Following his return from combat, Major Gruba was selected as the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing nominee for the 2010 Marine Corps Aviation Association’s Marine Aviator of the Year award.

In 2011, Major Gruba graduated from the Expeditionary Warfare School resident program in Quantico, Virginia, a curriculum that included the Tactical MAGTF Integration Course in Twentynine Palms, California. During this time, he also graduated with distinction from the Marine Corps University Command and Staff College seminar program.

Following his completion of the conversion flight syllabus for the CH-53E Super Stallion in late 2011, Major Gruba was assigned as a Fleet Replacement Squadron instructor pilot with HMHT-302, MAG-29, MCAS New River, North Carolina, where he served as Pilot Training Officer, Assistant Operations Officer, Director of Safety and Standardization, and Executive Officer. In the spring of 2014, near the end of his tenure at HMHT-302, Major Gruba spent three months as a Service Chiefs Fellow with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Virginia, visiting dozens of advanced research facilities featuring DARPA programs in quantum physics, photonics, neurology, and aerospace.

During the 2014-2015 academic year, Major Gruba served as the Commandant of the Marine Corps Fellow at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Boston, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in international relations with a focus on security studies. His capstone project was entitled An Anbar Re-Awakening? A Comparative Analysis of Al-Qaeda in Iraq & the Islamic State. His article Strategic Minorities: Iraq’s Non-Muslims and the Power of Persecution in the Fight Against the Islamic State was published in the spring 2015 edition of Al Nakhlah, The Fletcher School's online journal on Southwest Asia and Islamic civilization.

In July 2015, Maj Gruba assumed the duties of Executive Officer at HMH-461, MAG-29, MCAS New River, North Carolina.

Major Gruba’s personal decorations include the Air Medal with bronze numeral 8, the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal with gold star in lieu of third award, and the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal.