LtCol Elward entered the United States Marine Corps in 1997 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. Following graduation from The Basic School in November 1998, he commenced flight training and earned his wings in April 2001 out of VT-22 in NAS Kingsville, TX.
Completing F/A-18 transition training at NAS Lemoore, CA with VFA-125 in the Fall of 2002, he reported to MCAS Beaufort, SC and joined the "Hawks" of VMFA(AW)-533. He served as the Ground Training Officer, Aviation Safety Officer, and Director of Safety and Standardization. During this tour he deployed to Al Jaber, Kuwait in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF), and to MCAS Iwakuni (WESTPAC) in support of the Unit Deployment Program (UDP).
In June 2005, LtCol Elward reported to 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) in Camp Pendleton, CA as a Forward Air Controller. There he served as a Supporting Arms Liaison Team Leader, and Brigade Platoon and Company Air Officer. He deployed to Ramadi, Iraq in support of OIF.
In December 2006, after completing F/A-18 refresher training with VMFAT-101 at MCAS Miramar, CA, LtCol Elward joined the “Vikings” of VMFA(AW)-225. There he served as the Assistant S-4 and Logistics Officer, Administration Department Head, Assistant Operations Officer, and Operations Officer. During this tour he deployed to Al Asad, Iraq in support of OIF, and MCAS Iwakuni (WESTPAC) in support of UDP.
In February 2010, LtCol Elward attended Naval Command and Staff College in Newport, RI and was a Distinguished Graduate earning a Masters degree in National Security and Strategic Studies.
In March 2011, LtCol Elward again reported to 1st ANGLICO and served as the Operations Officer and Executive Officer, deploying to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
Upon returning from deployment, LtCol Elward was selected as the Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force and Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command.
In July 2013, LtCol Elward joined the Plans, Policies, and Operations (PP&O) Department at HQMC as the Systems Section Head in the Readiness Branch of the Operations Division.
In July 2016, LtCol Elward reported to MATSG-22 and served as part of the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) Staff as the USMC Training Command Liaison. In October 2017, he moved over the MATSG-22 staff and served as the Operations Officer before assuming his current billet as the Executive Officer. LtCol Elward also serves as an augment Instructor Pilot to TW-2 flying the T-45C Goshawk.