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Colonel Russell C. Rybka
Commanding Officer
Marine Aircraft Group 49

Colonel Rybka attended Auburn University on an NROTC scholarship, where he attained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant upon graduation in December 1996. Colonel Rybka reported to The Basic School in January 1997, where he was assigned to Bravo Company 2-97. Following The Basic School, he was assigned to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida and designated a Naval Aviator in August 1999. He then reported to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Training Squadron 303, Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California for training in the AH-1W Cobra. 

His first assignment in the operating forces was to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 269, Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina from 2000 to 2005. During this period, he twice deployed with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263 (Reinforced) as part of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (MEU(SOC)) Aviation Combat Element (ACE). While forward deployed, he participated in Operation DYNAMIC RESPONSE in Kosovo, Operation SOUTHERN WATCH in the Arabian Gulf, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM 2-1 and 3-1. Colonel Rybka held billets in the Operations, Maintenance, Safety, and Logistics Departments. He attended Weapons and Tactics Instructor course 1-04 at Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One in Yuma, Arizona. 

Colonel Rybka returned to Quantico in July 2005 to attend Expeditionary Warfare School (EWS). Upon graduation from EWS in May 2006, he attended Tactical Air Control Party School at Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Atlantic in Little Creek, Virginia and was subsequently assigned to The Basic School as the Air Officer. While assigned to The Basic School, Colonel Rybka also served as the Assistant Operations Officer, Command Section Head within the Warfighting Division, and Instructor Battalion Executive Officer. In July 2008, Colonel Rybka assumed the duties as Commanding Officer, Basic Officers Course 6-08, Company F. Colonel Rybka completed Marine Corps Command and Staff College in April 2009. 

Colonel Rybka returned to the operating forces and HMLA 269 in May 2009. He was assigned as the Officer in Charge of the H-1 detachment to Marine Medium Tilt-Rotor Squadron 162 as part of the 24th MEU(SOC) ACE. While forward deployed the H-1 detachment provided humanitarian assistance during Operation UNIFIED RESPONSE in Haiti and conducted autonomous, disaggregated operations in the U.S. CENTCOM Area of Operations. Upon returning to HMLA 269 in August 2010, Colonel Rybka assumed the duties as the Aviation Maintenance Officer. In May 2011 Colonel Rybka assumed the duties as the Executive Officer for the squadron’s deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. 

In March 2012, Colonel Rybka assumed the duties as Commanding Officer, Headquarters Squadron, Marine Aircraft Group 29. 
From July 2013 until March 2016 Colonel Rybka served as the Marine Corps’ Representative in Aviation Budget Requirements to the Director of Air Warfare, Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV N98). Colonel Rybka earned his Masters of Business Administration from Naval Post Graduate School in March of 2016. 

In June 2016, Colonel Rybka assumed the duties as Commanding Officer, HMLA 269. Under his command, the Gunrunners were awarded the Commander Marine Forces Command 2016 Achievement in Safety Award and the 2017 Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award. 

From January 2018 until December 2018, Colonel Rybka served as the Executive Officer, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force — Crisis Response Africa. 

Col Rybka graduated NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy in July 2019. From August 2019 to June 2022, Colonel Rybka served as U.S. EUCOM J-33, Chief of Operations Division. 

Colonel Rybka has over 2,500 mishap-free flight hours in the AH-1W Cobra, with nearly 700 combat flight hours. His personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with two gold stars, Single Mission Air Medal with “V,” Strike/Flight Air Medal with Numeral 16, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal with two gold stars, and Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal.