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Force Master Chief
Force Master Chief
Commander Nick Cunningham
Commanding Officer, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77
29 October 2020
Commander Nick Cunningham was born and raised in Denver, CO and graduated from The United States Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point) in July of 2002. Upon graduation he received his commission and worked at USMMA until starting flight school in the fall of 2002. After completing Primary and Advanced training he was designated a Naval Aviator in July of 2004. In April of 2005 he completed initial Fleet Replacement Squadron training and qualified as an SH-60B pilot.
His first sea assignment included deployments with the HSL-51 WARLORDS from NAF Atsugi, Japan in support of SHAREM, TALISMAN SABRE and VALANT SHEILD embarked on USS GARY (FFG 51), and USS COWPENS (CG 63). He embarked USS SHILOH (CG 67) as Maintenance Officer and finished his first overseas tour as Assistant Operations Officer making a final deployment with USS MCCAMPBELL (DDG 85).
Commander Cunningham’s work ashore consisted of a tour with the Helicopter Maritime Strike Weapons School Atlantic (HSMWSL), in Jacksonville, FL where he qualified as Weapons Tactics Instructor and as a Fleet Replacement Squadron Instructor. While at HSMWSL he trained combat crews deploy in the SH-60B and MH-60R, managed the introduction of night formation using NVG’s and participated in multiple Naval Aviation Requirements Groups.
His next sea tour was as squadron training officer (WTI) with the HSL-42 PROUD WARRIORS. He was the first Aviator at the PROUD WARRIORS to qualify on the new MH-60R. Following his qualification he helped transition HSL-42 to HSM-72 and the MH-60R with Carrier Air Wing SEVEN. During his time at HSM-72 the PROUD WARRIORS won the Battle “E” for 2011 and 2012.
In the fall of 2013 he returned to the Forward Deployed Naval Forces in Japan and the HSM-77 SABERHAWKS with Carrier Air Wing FIVE as Combat Element One Officer in Charge onboard USS ANTIENTM (CG 54). Moving up to Operations Officer he helped coordinate the first CVW-5 Air Wing Fallon, and USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) to USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76) hull swap. During his tour with the SABERHAWKS, the squadron was awarded the 2014 Battle “E” Award, and numerous squadron citations and awards for conduct during Operation Damayan.
In February 2016, Commander Cunningham reported to the USSTRATCOM as an Air Planner in JFCC GS J514 and finishing his tour planner Quality Assurance in J5N511 in June 2019. In the fall of 2019 he requalifed on the MH-60R at the HSM-41 SEAHAWKS, and reunited with the HSM-77 SABERHAWKS in March 2020, taking over as an Executive officer in April 2020 and assumed command in APR 2021.
His personal decorations include Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (3 awards), Navy Achievement Medal (2 awards), and various other individual and unit commendations.
HSM-77 Commanding Officer