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William L. Nyland
General William L. Nyland, USMC
Nickname "Spider"
Born October 2, 1946(1946-10-02) (age 75)
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1968-2005
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Other work
  • Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), Deputy Director for Defense R&D
  • Toys for Tots, Chairman

Midshipman Nyland (holding M14 rifle in the left foreground) during a 1967 field exercise at the University of New Mexico.

William L. "Spider" Nyland (born October 2, 1946), a veteran of the Vietnam War, is a retired United States Marine Corps four-star General who served as the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps from 2002 to 2005. He retired from the Marine Corps in November 2005 after over 37 years of distinguished service.

Marine Corps career[]

Nyland was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps under the Naval ROTC program upon graduation in 1968 from the University of New Mexico. In addition to attaining a Master of Science degree from the University of Southern California, his formal military education includes The Basic School (1968), Naval Aviation Flight Training (NFO) (1969), Amphibious Warfare School (1975), Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) (1977), College of Naval Command and Staff, Naval War College (1981), and the Air War College (1988).

He was advanced to First Lieutenant on September 5, 1969, Captain on February 1, 1972, Major on September 1, 1978, and Lieutenant Colonel on April 1, 1984.

After being assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 351 (VMFA-531), he was ordered to Vietnam, where he flew 122 combat missions with VMFA-314 and VMFA-115. His other tours included: Instructor RIO, Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 (VMFAT-101); Squadron Assistant Operations Officer and Operations Officer, VMFA-115; and Brigade FORSTAT and Electronic Warfare Officer, 1st Marine Brigade. He also served as Operations Officer and Director of Safety and Standardization, VMFA-212; Aviation Safety Officer and Congressional Liaison/Budget Officer, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C.; and Operations Officer, Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Amphibious Brigade. He commanded VMFA-232, the Marine Corps' oldest and most decorated fighter squadron, from July 1985 to July 1987.

Lieutenant Colonel Nyland subsequently served as section chief for the Central Command Section, European Command/Central Command Branch, Joint Operations Division, Directorate of Operations (J-3), Joint Staff, Washington, D.C. He was promoted to Colonel on February 1, 1990. In July 1990, Colonel Nyland assumed command of Marine Aviation Training Support Group Pensacola, Florida. Following his command of MATSG, he assumed duties as Chief of Staff, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (2MAW) on July 5, 1992, and assumed additional duties as Assistant Wing Commander on November 10, 1992. He was promoted to Brigadier General on September 1, 1994 and was assigned as Assistant Wing Commander, 2MAW, serving in that billet until December 1, 1995.

Brigadier General Nyland served next on the Joint Staff, J-8, as the Deputy Director for Force Structure and Resources, completing that tour on June 30, 1997. He was advanced to Major General on July 2, 1997, and assumed duties as the Deputy Commanding General, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He then served as the Commanding General, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, from July 1998 to June 2000. He was advanced to Lieutenant General on June 30, 2000 and assumed duties as the Deputy Commandant for Programs and Resources, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps.[1] He next assumed duties as the Deputy Commandant for Aviation on August 3, 2001. He was advanced to General on September 4, 2002, and assumed his duties as the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps on September 10, 2002.

General Nyland served as the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington D.C., from September 2002 until September 7, 2005. He retired from active duty on November 1, 2005.


His personal decorations include:

Ribbon numeral 8.png
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Naval Flight Officer insignia
1st Row Defense Distinguished Service Medal Legion of Merit Defense Meritorious Service Medal
2nd Row Meritorious Service Medal Air Medal w/ Strike/Flight numeral "8" Joint Service Commendation Medal Joint Meritorious Unit Award w/ 1 oak leaf cluster
3rd Row Navy Unit Commendation Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 4 service stars National Defense Service Medal w/ 2 service stars Vietnam Service Medal w/ 1 service star
4th Row Kosovo Campaign Medal w/ 1 service star Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Korea Defense Service Medal Armed Forces Service Medal
5th Row Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 6 service stars Vietnam Gallantry Cross unit citation Vietnam Civil Actions unit citation Vietnam Campaign Medal

In retirement[]

As of August 2006, General Nyland serves as Deputy Director for Defense Research and Development for the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC).[2] General Nyland also serves as Chairman of Toys for Tots[3] and on the Board of Directors for FreeLinc.

See also[]



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