Commander Norman Cruz

Commanding Officer, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 73

28 October 2020 CDR Norman Cruz was born and raised in San Diego, California, before attending the University of California at Los Angeles where he graduated with a degree in Sociology in 2001.  He received his commission via the Naval Reserve Officer’s Training Corps Unit at UCLA.  CDR Cruz has earned a Master of Sciences in Homeland Security (San Diego State University, 2010), a Master of Arts in National Security Strategic Studies, and JPME Phase I (U.S. Naval War College, 2012). 

CDR Cruz received his aviator warfare pin in October 2003 through Advanced Helicopter training at NAS Whiting Field, Milton, Florida.  CDR Cruz was assigned to his first operational tour with the “Battlecats” of HSL-43, San Diego, California in July 2004.  He served as a Detachment Assistant Operations Officer and Maintenance Officer and as squadron Quality Assurance Officer, participated in numerous support operations on ships that deployed in the Western Pacific, and Arabian Gulf regions and earned his Aircraft Commander Designation in April 2006.  His tour culminated with his selection as the 2007 HSL-43 Pilot of the Year.  CDR Cruz then reported as a Helicopter Fleet Replacement Instructor Pilot in October to the “Seahawks” of HSM-41, where he completed his tour as the squadron Quality Assurance Officer. 

In November 2010, CDR Cruz’ next assignment was as a Global Support Augmentee to Afghanistan.  There he served as the International Joint Center Rotary Wing Operations Officer at Kabul Afghanistan, an Air Planner for the 101st Airborne Division at Bagram Airfield and subsequently trained as a Brigade Electronic Warfare Officer and provided Counter Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device services to Polish Battlegroups ALPHA/BRAVO, 101st Airborne Division, 1st Calvary, EOD Flights 450/751, and an Operational Detachment Alpha Team at Forward Operating Base Ghazni, Afghanistan.

CDR Cruz returned to the fleet as a Department Head in HSM-35, the “Magicians.”  There he served as both Operations Officer and Maintenance Officer where his efforts directly contributed to the Navy’s first aviation composite detachment onboard LCS.  CDR Cruz was selected as the 2014 HSM-35 Officer of the Year.

Following his department head tour, CDR Cruz served as the Executive Officer for EUCOM, J3 Directorate, Integrated Air and Missile Defense Division.  His efforts directly supported the achievement of the Technical Capability Declaration and Operational Validation of the European Phased Adaptive Approach Phase 2, which integrated the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System into the overall NATO ballistic missile defense system architecture.  He selected for squadron command in March 2016 and served as Executive Officer of  HSM-73 from May of 2018 to July of 2019. He is currently the Commanding Officer of HSM-73.

CDR Cruz has accumulated over 2000 flight hours with over 900 Aircraft Commander Hours in the SH60B, MH60R helicopters, and the MQ-8B UAV.  CDR Cruz has been awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation and Achievement Medals in addition to other unit awards. 
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