Cpl. Brandi S. Hauck, from Hershey, Pennsylvania, gets a thumbs-up from Capt. Dusty M. Oakes, from Guys Mills, Pennsylvania, September 30 during Forager Fury III on Andersen Air Force Base . Hauck has just guided Oakes into his parking space, has done routine maintenance procedures of the aircraft, and is now waiting for Oakes to disembark. Hauck is a plane captain and Oakes is an FAâ18 pilot. Both are with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 currently assigned to Marine Air Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force under the unit deployment program. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler Ngiraswei.
Recognizing that the immediate future of airline pilots is in flux, the Marine Corps is offering former Marine pilots bonuses of up to $100,000 to come back and suit up.
According to Capt. Joe Butterfield, a Marine spokesman at the Pentagon, “We are offering this interim return to active duty opportunity partly because of timing. One of our objectives is to give this opportunity to former pilots who are now in the commercial airline industry, but may be dealing with ongoing furloughs and looking to return to active service.”
Eligible former Marine aviators can apply for the program by submitting an Administrative Action Form to Manpower Management Officer Assignments and request to be considered for return to active duty before November 6.
“Individuals need to be AV-8B, F/A-18, F-35, KC-130, or MV-22 pilots holding the rank of captain or major. They may also be a CH-53 pilot holding the rank of captain,” Butterfield wrote to AOPA. “Pilots will fill billets based on needs of the Marine Corps. Those needs are mostly in the Fleet Marine Force or instructor pilot billets.”
Prior to COVID-19, the Marine Corps had its own pilot shortage and struggled to attract and retain pilots who opted to fly for the airlines. Now the military hopes those pilots affected by the downturn of the commercial airline industry will come back. Military.com recently reported, “The Marine Corps wants the pilots to sign two, three, or four-year contracts to return to active duty. Those selected will be automatically career-designated if they weren’t prior to leaving the service, and those willing to stay in longer could be given preference.”
In the Military.com interview, Butterfield also stated, “This interim board gives the opportunity for those no longer on active duty to fly with the Marine Corps again and continue their service to the nation.”