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Colonel Mark Schmidt is the Vice Commander, 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy. He leads a wing with the only permanently assigned U.S. Air Force fighter aircraft wing in NATO’s Southern Region. With approximately 4,200 active-duty military members, nearly 300 U.S. civilians and 700 Italian civilian employees, the wing conducts and supports air combat operations, and maintains munitions for NATO. The wing’s diverse mission sets are executed by Airmen that fly, maintain, and support two F-16CM Fighting Falcon Fighter squadrons, two Combat Search and Rescue Squadrons with Pararescue Airmen and HH-60 Pavehawks, USAFE's only Air Control Squadron, Agile Combat Support Squadrons, Medical Squadrons and numerous Wing Staff Agencies.

Colonel Schmidt graduated from Olivet Nazarene University in 1995. Following his undergraduate degree, Colonel Schmidt worked as a nuclear research chemist and a research fellow for the National Science Foundation as an oceanographer earning his Master’s Degree in Oceanography in 1998. He attended Officer Training School and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant on April 9, 1999. After OTS he attended JUNT at Pensacola NAS where he earned his navigator wings in 2000. Colonel Schmidt earned his pilot wings at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma in 2004.

Colonel Schmidt has served in five flying assignments in the F-15E, AT-38C, and F-16 and flew in support of Operations NORTHERN WATCH and ENDURING FREEDOM. He has flown 69 combat sorties with 310 combat hours. 

1995 Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science, Olivet Nazarene University, Kankakee, Ill.
1998 Master of Science degree in Oceanography, University of Delaware, Lewes, Del.
1999 Officer Candidate School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
2006 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2010 Air Command and Staff College, by correspondence
2013 Naval Command and Staff College, Newport Naval Station, Newport, R.I.
2013 Air War College, by correspondence
2013 Maritime Advanced Warfighting School, Newport Naval Station, Newport, R.I.
2017 National War College, Fort McNair, District of Columbia

1. April 1999 - September 2000, student navigator, VT-86, Pensacola NAS, Fla.
2. October 2000 – August 2001, student WSO, 333rd Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.
3. September 2001 – September 2002, WSO, Snacko & squadron SELO, 492nd Fighter Squadron, RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom
4. October 2002 - July 2004, student pilot, 25th Flying Training Squadron, Vance AFB, Okla.
5. September 2004 – August 2005, F-15E student pilot, 333rd Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.
6. September 2005 – March 2007, Chief of Training and Safety, F-15E pilot, 90th Fighter Squadron, Elmendorf AFB, Anchorage, Alaska
7. April 2007 – December 2009, F-15E Chief, Wing Standardization and Evaluation, F-15E evaluator pilot, 391st Fighter Squadron, Mountain Home AFB, Idaho
8. January 2010 – June 2012, Chief Operations Division, F-16 aggressor pilot, 353 Combat Training Squadron, Eielson AFB, Alaska
9. July 2012 – August 2013, student, Naval War College, Newport Naval Station, R.I.
10. August 2013 – January 2014, AT-38B instructor pilot, 435th Fighter Training Squadron, JBSA-Randolph, Texas
11. March 2014 – April 2016, Commander, 435th Fighter Training Squadron, Texas
12. July 2016 – June 2017, Student, National War College, Fort McNair, District of Columbia
13. July 2017 – July 2019, Director for Operations Alaskan Command, JBER, Alaska
14. July 2019 – Present, Vice Wing Commander, 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy

Rating: Command pilot
Flight hours: more than 2210
Aircraft flown: T-34C, T-1, T-39, T-37, T-38A-C, F-16, F-15E

Defense Superior Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster

“Arctic Solutions for Arctic Challenges – District 17 as Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander for Alaskan Command,” Proceedings, August 2019. Co-Author LCDR Grant Bryan
“Operations Colony Glacier – Feel Good Story or Something Greater?” Anchorage Daily News, 14 June 2019
“Next Level Leadership – Strategic Leader’s Guide to Transforming Culture in Large Organization,” Joint Forces Quarterly, Issue 86, July 2017. Co-Author Major Ryan Slaughter
“Size-fractionated Biological Iron and Carbon Uptake Along a Coastal to Offshore Transect in the NE Pacific,” Deep-Sea Research Part II. September 1998. Co-Author Dr. David Hutchins
“Assimilation of Fe and Carbon by Marine Copepods From Fe-limited and Fe-replete Diatom Prey,” Journal of Plankton Research. Co-authors Yaohong Zhang and Dr. David Hutchins

Second Lieutenant April 9, 1999
First Lieutenant April 9, 2001
Captain April 9, 2003
Major October 1, 2008
Lieutenant Colonel November 1, 2013
Colonel May 1, 2018

(Current as of July 2019)