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U.S. Marine Capt. Tyler Bonnett, an F-35B Lightning II pilot with Marine Operational Test Evaluation Squadron 1, poses for a portrait photo while attending the Expeditionary Warfare School Blended Seminar Program on Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California, May 25, 2021. The EWSBSP teaches students the various aspects of leading a Marine Air Ground Task Force. Bonnett is a native of Pierre, South Dakota. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Hope Straley)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Hope Straley

Marine officer stands out in EWS blended seminar

25 May 2021 | Lance Cpl. Hope Straley Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

A classroom on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, is full of U.S. Marine officers. They come from military occupational specialties spread throughout the Marine Corps, and all of them are high performers. But one sticks out from the rest.

U.S. Marine Capt. Tyler Bonnett, an F-35B Lightning II pilot with Marine Operational Test Evaluation Squadron 1, based in Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, is a vital member of the Expeditionary Warfare School’s Blended Seminar Program because of his experience and background in aviation.

After getting an education in commercial aviation at the University of North Dakota, Bonnett spent time working for different aviation companies. However, he felt unsatisfied.

“I felt like I needed to do something different,” said Bonnet, a native of Pierre, South Dakota.

The desire to be involved in a mission bigger than himself drove him to apply for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Officer Candidate School.

As an officer, Bonnett still had an interest in aircraft and worked to become a pilot for the F-35B. That path has taken him all over the country. His latest training opportunity brought him to Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton for the blended seminar.

The EWSBSP is a 16-week course that alternates between in-person and distance learning. The first month is in person and teaches warfighting and the specific roles for each part of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. The following 12 weeks are primarily online and teach the functional employment of the MAGTF. The students come back for a final period of in-person classes before graduating.

“We are learning to be MAGTF planners,” explained Bonnett.

During the most recent EWSBSP, a new challenge was presented - COVID-19. Instead of a mixture of online and in-person classes, the majority of Bonnett's course was via distance learning before seminar leadership felt conditions were safe enough to bring students together for the final days of the course.

“Bonnett brought everything he had to the program,” said Capt. Austin Caroll Keeley, the deputy director for the Recruiting School on Marine Corps Recruiting Depot San Diego and a fellow student in the seminar. “Being able to work with him in class has really brought together the core concepts of the MAGTF.”

According to Lt. Col. Eddie Utuk, the branch head for EWSBSP on Camp Pendleton, almost all of his peers agreed Bonnett is an exceptional student and Marine.

“From a leadership standpoint, I asked the class commanders who had the most contact with the students, to nominate who they believed absolutely stood out from a tactical standpoint, and without a doubt they nominated Capt. Bonnet,” Utuk recalled.

An example of this is when students were working together to draft an operations order. Bonnett was pulled out and was given the duty of building an air tasking order that would coordinate the movement of aviation assets in support of the ground combat element in a MAGTF.

“It would be a large task for any officer to tackle,” said Caroll Keelley. “But he was able to perform at one of the top levels that you’d expect of a Marine. He did so in a way that elevated the performance of those around him.”

Bonnett’s passion to elevate Marines is fueled by his mentality. His goal is to stay focused on the things he can control.

“I try hard and that’s really all I can control,” said Bonnett.

The blended seminar students learn many components to leading MAGTFs. These include developing the understanding from a tactical perspective of core MAGTF capabilities, mental and physical preparedness to be in positions of increased leadership across the MAGTF, as well as the moral preparation to be key roles in a MAGTF.

Whether it be flying the F-35 or participating in programs like EWSBSP, Bonnett strives to put his best foot forward and hopes that effort will lead to success.

The graduation for EWSBSP is slated for June 4.

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton