Chief of Staff

BGen Karsten "Hazel" Heckl

Brigadier General Heckl entered the Marine Corps through the Platoon Leaders Course and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in April 1988 after graduating from Georgia State University.  Upon graduating from The Basic School, he reported to NAS Pensacola for flight training.  In September 1990, Brigadier General Heckl was designated a Naval Aviator and reported to Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squadron 204 (HMT-204), Marine Aircraft Group 29 Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River for training as a CH-46E pilot.

In May 1991, Brigadier General Heckl was assigned to the Blue Knights of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 365 (HMM-365) where he served as the Pilot Training Officer, Flight Line Division Officer, Future Operations Officer, the Squadron Weapons and Tactics Instructor and the Logistics Officer.  He completed two deployments with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (26th MEU(SOC)), during which he participated in Operations PROVIDE PROMISE, DENY FLIGHT in the Adriatic Sea and RESTORE HOPE in Somalia.  Brigadier General Heckl reported to Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, VA in August 1995.

In May 1996 Brigadier General Heckl graduated from the Amphibious Warfare School and reported for duty with Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) in Yuma, Arizona.  With MAWTS-1 he served as a CH-46E instructor responsible for training Weapons and Tactics Instructors and was the CH-46E Division Head.  In May 1999 Brigadier General Heckl was transferred to HMT-204 in Jacksonville North Carolina.  In June 1999 HMT-204 was redesignated Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 (VMMT-204).  While at VMMT-204 Brigadier General Heckl served as the Assistant Operations Officer and Future Operations Officer.

In July 2001 Brigadier General Heckl joined the Thunder Chickens of HMM-263 and assumed the position of Executive Officer.  In August 2002 HMM-263(REIN) deployed as the Aviation Combat Element for 24th MEU(SOC) and participated in Operations in Kosovo, the Horn of Africa and combat operations during IRAQI FREEDOM.  The squadron returned in May 2003 and in July Brigadier General Heckl was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC) Aviation Department, Washington DC for duty as the CH-46E and MV-22 Requirements Officer.  In August 2005, Brigadier General Heckl reported to VMMT-204 for refresher training in the MV-22 and on 31 August 2006 he assumed command of the Marine Corps’ second operational tiltrotor squadron, the Golden Eagles of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162 (VMM-162).  In March 2008 after all transition training had been successfully completed Brigadier General Heckl deployed VMM-162 in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM 08.1.  Returning from deployment in October 2008, he relinquished command of VMM-162 and in March 2009 reported to the Naval War College in Newport Rhode Island.  Following graduation in February 2010, Brigadier General Heckl reported for duty with MAWTS-1 and assumed command on 18 June 2010.  He relinquished command in December 2011 and in January 2012 reported for duty as the J3 Director of Operations, United States Forces-Afghanistan in Kabul.  Returning from Afghanistan in January 2013, he was assigned to HQMC Aviation Department and shortly thereafter assumed the duties as Marine Military Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy.

On 1 July 2014, Brigadier General Heckl assumed the duties as the Assistant Deputy Commandant for Aviation.  In June 2016 Brigadier General Heckl assumed his current duties as the Chief of Staff, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), Lisbon, Portugal.

Personal decorations include the Legion of Merit (gold star), Bronze Star (2nd award), the Meritorious Service Medal (2nd award), Air Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2nd award).

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