Looking Back and Looking Forward with the Leadership of VMX-22 (Updated)


2014-07-08 Second Line of Defense visited 2nd Marine Wing in late June 2014, and we covered the VMX-22 change of command.

As part of this effort, we sat down with the departing commander, Col. Michael Orr and with the newly appointed commander, who had been serving as the Executive Officer for VMX-22, Colonel Robert L. Rauenhorst.

The new CO has a diversified and impressive background to lead this important innovation squadron for Marine Aviation and for the MAGTF.

His bio can be read at the end of this article.

Question: Col. Orr, what do you view as the major achievements of your command during your time as the CO?

Col. Orr: I think the biggest achievement has been the transformation of the squadron from a V-22 specific unit that was really focused on the Osprey to a unit that is really focused on all of Marine aviation.

Col. Orr is preparing to relinquish command in the presence of DCA General Davis and Sergeant Major Clive C. O'Connor. Credit Photo: Second Line of Defense
Col. Orr is preparing to relinquish command in the presence of DCA General Davis and Sergeant Major
Clive C. O’Connor. Credit Photo: Second Line of Defense

We are now focused on all the type model series of Marine aviation and on making those Marine aviation platforms better contributors to the Marine air ground task force in supporting the larger MAGTF mission.

And the way we did that was really to bring in subject matter experts from the other type model series, from UAS’s from the Marine Air Command and Control system, to better integrate our F-35 testing that’s out of Edwards to bring those Marines closer to the fold.

This is allowing us to shape truly aviation-centric MAGTF officers that understand how to bring technology and better enable present and future missions that Marine aviation may be called upon to support the warfighter on the ground.

That’s probably the thing that I’m most proud about.

Question: Col. Rauenhorst under your command, VMX-22 will move to Yuma Air Station and become a key partner with MAWTS-1, and over time consolidate all type/model/series that include the MV-22B, AH-1W/Z, UH-1Y, F-35B, CH-53E/K, Unmanned Aerial Systems, and Marine Aviation Command and Control Systems.

But what do you view as your initial challenge?

Col. Rauenhorst: The first challenge will be embarking the squadron’s MV-22Bs onboard the USS AMERICA and working the integration of the Osprey with the new amphibious assault ship.

Col. Orr and Col. Rauenhorst preparing for the change of command. Credit Photo: Preparing for Change of Command: Credit PhotoL Second Line of Defense
Col. Orr and Col. Rauenhorst preparing for the change of command. Credit Photo: Second Line of Defense

We will be working on logistics and new operational capabilities off of the ship as she travels towards its initial homeport in San Diego.

We will be onboard for about two months, and she is leaving mid-July from where she was built.

We have limited shipboard experience for our maintenance personnel, so that will be a major focus of attention during this at-sea period.

We will marry up on board with the command element of the Ground Combat Element with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion and logistics Marines all coming from the West Coast to the ship.

As part of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task-South, we will look to support theater security cooperation missions with our fellow Marine counterparts in the southern hemisphere, and show case the operational capabilities of the MV-22B.

And clearly the move under way to Yuma is a major task and opportunity.

This will give us a great opportunity to work with all of USMC aviation, and MAWTS-1 as well in developing an aviation center of excellence for the MAGTF of the 21st century.

The Bio of Colonel Rauenhorst

Colonel Rauenhorst enlisted through the Delayed Entry Program in 1983 and completed recruit training at MCRD San Diego in August 1984.  After completion of motor transportation mechanics school at Camp Johnson in February 1985, he joined RS Mankato, MN and served as a recruiter’s aide.  In September 1985, he reported to MWSS-471 in Minneapolis, MN as an active reservist and attended Mankato State University.  He was promoted to the rank of Corporal, and upon graduation from college he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in June 1989 through the Platoon Leaders Course.

He reported to The Basic School in September 1989.  After graduation from The Basic School in April 1990, he completed the Infantry Officer’s Course and reported to NAS Pensacola in September 1990 for flight school.  He was designated a Naval Aviator in August 1992 at NAS Chase Field, Beeville, TX.

First Lieutenant Rauenhorst completed F/A-18 transition training at NAS Cecil Field with VFA-106 in December 1993 and reported to VMFA-312 at MCAS Beaufort, SC where he served as CMCC Officer, Quality Assurance Officer, and Assistant Aviation Maintenance Officer.  During this tour he embarked with the “Checkerboards” onboard USS ROOSEVELT (CVN-71) for two Mediterranean cruises as part of Carrier Air Wings EIGHT and THREE.  While serving with the “Checkerboards,” he graduated from the Marine Corps Division Tactics and Weapons and Tactics Instructors courses and participated in Operations DENY FLIGHT, DELIBERATE FORCE, DELIBERATE GUARD, and SOUTHERN WATCH.

In November of 1997, Captain Rauenhorst was reassigned to 75 SQN, Royal Australian Air Force, at Tindal, Australia for duty as USMC exchange F/A-18 pilot.  While at 75 SQN, he graduated from the Australian Aviation Safety Officers course and served the Squadron Aviation Safety Officer and B-Flight Commander.

He was then reassigned to Doctrine Division, Marine Corps Combat and Development Command, Quantico, VA, as an action officer for aviation publications from January to August 2000.  Major Rauenhorst attended Marine Corps Command and Staff College and received a Master’s degree in Military Studies.  Upon graduation from Command and Staff College in June 2001, he was reassigned to U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt AFB, Omaha, NE.

At the end of the change of command ceremony, Col. Rauenhorst is now the VMX-22 Commander as the CG of the 2nd Marine Air Wing, MG Hedelund participates in the ceremony. Credit Photo: Second Line of Defense
At the end of the change of command ceremony, Col. Rauenhorst becomes the VMX-22 Commander as the CG of the 2nd Marine Air Wing with MG Hedelund, CG of 2nd MAW, seen in the background. Credit Photo: Second Line of Defense

While serving at USSTRATCOM, he was assigned to the J-3/4 Airborne Division as an Airborne Operations Officer and Airborne Launch Control Systems Officer as a battle staff member onboard the command and control platform, E-6B Looking Glass.

Major Rauenhorst received orders to VFA-106 for refresher training in June 2003.  Upon completion, he reported in December 2003 to MAG-31 where he served as the Current Operations Officer.

In May 2004 he reported to VMFA-115 and served as the Aircraft Maintenance, Operations, and Executive Officer.  While embarked with the “Silver Eagles” onboard USS TRUMAN (CVN-75) as part of Carrier Air Wing THREE, Lieutenant Colonel Rauenhorst participated in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, and redeployed with VMFA-115 in support of a six-month Unit Deployment Program to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan in July 2006.  In March 2007 he transferred to MAG-31 as the MAG Training Officer Cell OIC, and subsequently assumed the duties as Executive Officer for MAG-31 in September 2007.

Lieutenant Colonel Rauenhorst assumed command of VMFA-312 in May 2008.  During his tour as Commanding Officer, the “Checkerboards” returned to carrier-based operations with Carrier Air Wing THREE onboard USS TRUMAN.  The squadron completed 12 deployments for training, and was selected as the Secretary of Defense Small-Unit Level Maintenance Department of the year in 2008 and nominated in 2009 by Headquarters Marine Corps, and earned the CNO Safety Award in 2009.  He relinquished command of VMFA-312 in January 2010 and was assigned as Maintenance OIC for Marine Aviation Training and Standardization Squadron at MAG-31.

In July 2010, Lieutenant Colonel Rauenhorst attended the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base and graduated with a Master’s degree in Strategic Studies.  In October he was awarded the 2010 Marine Corps Tailhooker of the Year by the Tailhook Association and promoted to his present rank.

Colonel Rauenhorst reported to U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South in July 2011 and assumed the duties as MARFORSOUTH, AC/S G-3.  As Operations Officer, he coordinated, planned, and oversaw the execution of U.S. Marine forces in the SOUTHCOM AOR supporting the national security strategy to Counter Transnational Organized Crime, including a SPMAGTF embarked onboard USS OAK HILL, over 80 theater security cooperation events, and additionally he served as OIC for a detachment of 200 Marines and Sailors in support of Operation MARTILLO from Guatemala.

In July 2013 he reported to VMX-22 and was temporarily assigned to VMMT-204 for conversion training in the MV-22B.  Upon completion of his initial qualification in the Osprey, Colonel Rauenhorst assumed his current duties as the Executive Officer for VMX-22.

Colonel Rauenhorst has flown over 3,100 hours, with over 2,700 in the F/A-18.  His personal decorations include the Joint Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Air Force Aerial Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Editor’s Note: That did not take long. 


Approximately 72 Marines and Sailors with Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 22 (VMX-22) stationed aboard Marine Corps Air Station New River deployed Wednesday in support of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-South (SPMAGTF-South) aboard USS AMERICA (LHA 6).

SPMAGTF-South will make multiple port visits to conduct different types of engagements with our partner-nation counterparts.  

AMERICA is the Navy’s newest America-class amphibious ship and will be traveling around South America in transit to her home port in San Diego.

It is the first ship with the ability to facilitate maintenance on more aircraft simultaneously at a significantly faster rate than older ship designs due to enhanced aviation maintenance and hangar facilities.

Col. Robert L. Rauenhorst, the commanding officer of VMX-22, will lead the squadron in its first deployment which is expected to last two months.


For our look at the impact of Yuma and VMX-22 on 21st century innovation see the following:




Second Line of Defense will visit MAWTS-1 later this month.

And for a look at the MAWTs-121 dynamic see the following as well:



And for two related stories from the current visit to 2nd MAW (with more on the way: