The Fairmont State University Aviation Center of Excellence will honor its third class of United States Air Force Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadets at a graduation ceremony to mark the completion of their training. The ceremony will take place on Friday, July 28 at 3 p.m. at the Fairmont State University Hangar B, Robert C. Byrd National Aerospace Education Center in Bridgeport.
The class consists of eight high school and college students from across the United States. These cadets were welcomed to campus in early June for the Summer 2023 U.S. AFJROTC Flight Academy.
“We are very excited to be a part of this exemplary and elite flight training program,” said Chief Pilot and Director of the Aviation Center of Excellence. “It’s amazing to think that we are helping to train the next generation of United States military aviators right here at Fairmont State.”
Fairmont State University launched its U.S. Air Force JROTC program in the summer of 2021. In October of the same year, the Fairmont State University Aviation Center of Excellence was recognized at the United States Air Force Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps and Aviation Accreditation Board International Flight Academy Annual Review in Atlanta and was amongst four universities named notable programs.
Fairmont State is one of 25 universities throughout the nation that has partnered with the U.S. Air Force to provide opportunities to JROTC, Reserve Officer Training Corps, Civil Air Patrol, and Air Force Academy cadets, while also expediting flight training for future airmen. The selection process for the AFJROTC Summer Flight Academy is highly competitive, with all cadets meeting the components required of U.S. Air Force Academy candidates.
In addition to receiving recognition for completion of the Summer 2023 U.S. AFJROTC Flight Academy, several Fairmont State flight students will be presented with awards from the Mountaineer Heroes of Honor Foundation and the Don Judy Commercial Flight Scholarship programs. The graduation ceremony keynote address will be provided by U.S. Marine Corps Colonel (Ret) David W. Bussel.
Colonel (Ret) David W. Bussel
Colonel (Ret) David Bussel is from Indiana and earned his degree from Ball State University. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in May 1991, graduated from The Basic School in Feb 1992, and was designated a Naval Aviator in Dec 1993. He is a graduate of the Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School, the Marine Corps Command & Staff College, the Army War College, and the Senior Strategy and Policy Course.
First Lieutenant Bussel first served with the Gunfighters of Helicopter-Marine-Light-Attack (HMLA) Squadron-369, Camp Pendleton, Calif., flying the AH-1W Super Cobra Attack Helicopter, 1994-1998. There, he served in Operations, Safety & Standardization, and Maintenance, and deployed twice to Okinawa. After attending Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 1-98, he served as the Intelligence and Tactics Department Head.
Captain Bussel was then selected as the Aide-de-Camp, Commanding General 3D Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., 1999.
2000-2001, Captain Bussel served with the Stingers of HMLA-267, Camp Pendleton, Calif.. There, he served as the Tactics Officer and deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Upon return from deployment, Major Bussel was selected as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron-One (MAWTS-1) Instructor, 2001-2004. There, he served as the Urban Close Air Support Specialist and the AH-1W Division Head. He also deployed to Operation IRAQI FREEDOM with HMLA-267 and was selected as the Flight Lead to lead the first U.S. Marine Corps aviation strike into Iraq. Major Bussel was selected MAWTS-1 Rotary Wing Instructor of the Year, 2003.
2004-2007, Major Bussel served again with HMLA-267 as the Squadron Operations Officer and Executive Officer.
2007-2009, Lieutenant Colonel Bussel commanded Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa. There, the Squadron won the National Defense Transportation Association Squadron of the Year.
After attending the Army War College, 2009-2010, Lieutenant Colonel Bussel served on the U.S. European Combatant Command Staff, Stuttgart, Germany, as Team Lead for the largest joint-combined U.S-Israeli exercise, AUSTERE CHALLENGE. Additionally, he served as the Joint Force Headquarters Branch Chief and the Joint Training, Readiness, and Exercises Division Chief, J37, 2010-2014.
2014-2017, Colonel Bussel served as the Inspector General and Assistant Chief of Staff, Capabilities, Requirements, and Assessments for Fleet Marine Forces, Atlantic | U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command, Norfolk, VA until transferring to the Naval Safety Center as the Director, Aviation Safety, 2018-2019 and Deputy Commander, 2020-2021.
Colonel Bussel retired after 30 years of active-duty service and began government civilian service in October 2021 as the Operations Officer, Naval Safety Center. In April 2022, Mr. Bussel was selected as the Director, Code 60 Assurance Directorate, Naval Safety Command.
Colonel (Ret) Bussel is married to Rebecca Kramm of Pensacola, Florida. They have four children and two grand-daughters: 1st Lt Austin Bussel, USMC-Liberty University Grad | Mandi Joy-Teacher-Liberty University Grad & University of Virginia Masters Student | Luke-Virginia Tech Grad and Virginia Tech Masters Student | and Tyler-Senior, Liberty University.