Official Marine Corp Bio:
Major General
Samuel T. Helland
Commanding General, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Major General Helland earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Minnesota, Duluth and holds a Master of Science Degree from Troy State University. He is a graduate of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College and the National Defense University, Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Major General Helland began his military career by enlisting in the Army in 1968. He served three years with U.S. Army Special Forces, leaving after a combat tour of duty in Vietnam with the 5th Special Forces Group (ABN), Military Advisory Command (Special Observations Group). Major General Helland graduated from Marine Officer Candidate School in 1973, and was designated a Naval Aviator in 1974. He is qualified as a CH-53 pilot.

His Marine Corps career assignments include tours of duty with Amphibious Units, Aviation Combat Elements, and Joint Task Forces. During these tours of duty, he participated in exercises and contingency operations that ranged from the Arctic Circle, throughout the Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas, and finally to the Persian Gulf, where he saw combat during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. After graduating from the Marine Command and Staff College in 1987, Major General Helland reported to Headquarters, Marine Corps to serve as a Staff Officer for the Department of Aviation, Aviation Programs and Weapons Division (APW). In 1990, he left Headquarters and was assigned as the Logistics Officer for the Marine Aircraft Group 26, only to be sent to the Persian Gulf as the Operations Officer for Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461, MAG 40. After returning from Southwest Asia, Major General Helland assumed command of HMH-461 in June 1991. He commanded HMH-461 until June 1993 after which he attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. After graduation, he reported to the Joint Staff and served as a member of the J-7, Operational Plans and Interoperability, Conventional War Plans Division, where he later served as Joint Staff Officer until 1996. Major General Helland assumed command of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in August 1996 and led the MEU through two Mediterranean deployments. During this period the MEU conducted five successful real world contingency operations, including Joint Task Force Nobel Obelisk in Sierra Leone in May 1997, during which Major General Helland was designated as Commander, Joint Task Force Noble Obelisk. In April 1999, after returning form his second deployment, he was assigned as the Deputy Commander JTF-Shining Hope providing humanitarian assistance to Albanian Kosovo refugees in Albania and Macedonia. Returning from Albania in July 1999, he was assigned to US Joint Forces Command, Norfolk VA, as the Director for Operations and Plans. Leaving US Joint Forces Command in August 2001, he reported to US Marine Forces South, Miami Florida as the Deputy Commanding General, Marine Forces South and the Commanding General, Fleet Marine Forces South. From August 2003 to May 2004, he served as the Assistant Deputy Commandant for Aviation, before assuming his current assignment. In May 2004 Major General Helland assumed command of Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa based in Djibouti, Africa before assuming his current assignment. On 5 August, 2005 Major General Helland assumed command of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, MCAS Miramar Sand Diego, California.

Major General Helland's personal decorations include the Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal with gold star, Defense Superior Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with gold star, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon with one star, and various service and unit awards.

(Updated Aug 5, 2005 HQMC)