CDR Norman “Caeser” Cruz
Commanding Officer, HSM-73
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 is scheduled to
report to HSM-73 as Executive Officer in May 2018.
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.