Major Christopher J. Merrick was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 5 May, 1987. He attended the University of New Mexico on an NROTC scholarship where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and received his Marine Corps Commission in May 2009. Upon completion of The Basic School he completed Aviation Preflight Indoctrination at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force Base, and Advanced Pilot Training at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. He was designated a Naval Aviator in December 2011.
Once complete with Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Training (SERE), Major Merrick reported to the KC-130J Aviation Training Unit followed by Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 (VMGR-252). Once qualified in the aircraft, he immediately deployed to Trapani, Italy and Djibouti, Africa in support of contingency operations following the 2012 Benghazi Embassy attack. He was then qualified on the Harvest Hercules Airborne Weapons Kit (Harvest HAWK) and deployed to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan where he flew close air support and assault support missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom 13.2.
Upon returning from the deployment, Major Merrick served as the Officer in Charge of the enlisted aircrew until he was selected to be the Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. Major Merrick was then selected to be the Marine Officer Instructor (MOI) at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. During his time as the MOI, he served as a Platoon Commander at the Officer Candidate School in Quantico, VA and attended the Expeditionary Warfare School - Blended Seminar at Camp Lejeune, NC.
Following his tour at Embry-Riddle, Major Merrick returned to VMGR-252 where he served as the Quality Assurance Officer, Assistant Operations Officer, and held various instructor qualifications. He was among the first four operational pilots to qualify on the Harvest HAWK Plus, an upgraded version of the weapons kit. He deployed as the KC-130J Detachment Executive Officer to Moron, Spain in support of the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force, Crisis Response Africa. While deployed he was notified of his selection to be the Commanding Officer of Recruiting Station Indianapolis.
Major Merrick's personal decorations include the Air Medal-Strike/Flight (5), the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2), and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3). He has flown more than 1,600 hours in the KC-130J, of which 340 were in direct support of combat operations.