Colonel Bret “Critter” Ritterby entered the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Washington in 1989 graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Metallurgical Engineering in 1993. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in December of 1993. After completing The Basic School, he entered flight training at NAS Pensacola, FL with follow on intermediate and advanced training at NAS Meridian, MS and NAS Kingsville, TX. He was selected to the Commodore’s List from advanced flight training and was designated a Naval Aviator in September of 1996. Upon completion of flight training, he was selected to remain as a flight instructor until reporting for AV8B training to Marine Attack Training Squadron 203, MCAS Cherry Point, NC in October of 1997.
Following qualification on the AV8B in October of 1998, Captain Ritterby was assigned to the Flying Nightmares of Marine Attack Squadron 513, MCAS Yuma, AZ where he served in numerous safety and maintenance billets. He attended the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course in March of 2002 and completed two sea-based deployments; one with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), and one with the 31st MEU.
In June of 2003, Capt Ritterby was assigned to the British Royal Navy as an exchange pilot flying the Sea Harrier F/A2. He served with 801 and 899 Naval Air Squadrons, RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, United Kingdom as the Training Officer until the Sea Harrier was decommissioned in March of 2006. As the last Marine to fly the Sea Harrier, he completed numerous deployments throughout Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.
In August of 2006, Major Ritterby reported to I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) Camp Pendleton, CA. He was assigned as the MEF Training Officer responsible for training support of all I MEF units deploying in support of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) and contingency/global force management missions. He served as the lead I MEF coordinator for Mojave Viper, Mountain Viper, and augmented training requirements in support of the 11th, 13th, 15th, and 31st MEUs.
In October of 2007, Maj Ritterby reported back to Marine Attack Squadron 513 as the Operations Officer. He immediately deployed in this capacity in support of the 31st MEU 07-2 patrol aboard USS Essex. Following this deployment, he assumed duties as the Aircraft Maintenance Officer and 11th MEU Detachment Officer in Charge. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in October of 2009 and deployed with the 11th MEU 09-2 patrol as the ACE Operations Officer. During this deployment, he flew combat missions in support of the GWOT.
LtCol Ritterby assumed command of Marine Attack Squadron 211 in May of 2010. During his command tour, the Wake Island Avengers conducted two highly successful deployments; one in support of the 31st MEU and one detachment in support of the 13th MEU. He relinquished command in December of 2011 and attended the Naval War College in Newport R.I earning a Master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. He then reported to U.S. European Command, J7 Joint Training and Readiness Directorate in August of 2013 as the JFHQ Exercises Branch Chief. Upon completion of his Joint Tour in July 2016, he reported to 3d Marine Aircraft Wing, MCAS Miramar, CA. for duty as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans G-3/5. He was slated for command of Marine Aviation Training Support Group 22 during this tour. He was promoted to Colonel on 1 September of 2016.
Col Ritterby has accumulated over 3800 hours in tactical jet aircraft with over 2800 of those in the AV8B. He is a designated Weapons and Tactics Instructor and Training Landing Signal Officer along with various other flight leadership and instructor qualifications. He is a Joint Qualified Officer along with being designated a Regional Affairs Officer for Western Europe. His personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with two gold stars in lieu of third award, Joint Service Achievement Medal and various unit and campaign awards.