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Raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Commander Nick “Chet” Zerler graduated from Ohio University in 2002, earning a Bachelor of Science in Aviation. In 2005 he was commissioned through the Officer Candidate School aboard NAS Pensacola. After earning his Naval Flight Officer Wings in February 2007, he reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 122 in Lemoore, CA for initial fleet training in the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
CDR Zerler began his operational flying in February 2008 with the “Bounty Hunters” of VFA-2. During that tour he deployed once aboard USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) and once aboard USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76) both in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF) and Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF).
In September 2011, CDR Zerler graduated TOPGUN and reported to the “Vampires” of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 9 as a Training Officer. CDR Zerler returned to the Bounty Hunters in 2014 as Training Officer and deployed aboard the USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76) in support of RIMPAC 2014.
CDR Zerler departed the Bullets in 2015 and attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, earning a Master of Business Administration in 2016. CDR Zerler returned to the fleet in February 2017 as a Department Head with the “Fighting Redcocks” of VFA-22 deploying aboard the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE.
Following his Department Head tour, CDR Zerler served as an action officer for the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), J-5 Directorate’s Concept Development and Integration Division. While on USSOCOM Staff, he acted as the Future Concepts Branch Chief.
CDR Zerler has accumulated over 2,500 flight hours, over 480 carrier arrested landings, and over 70 combat missions. His personal decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Strike/Flight Air Medal (three awards), Navy Commendation Medal (three awards), Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards) and other campaign and service ribbons.
Last Updated: 21 August 2023