Commander Michael Vaas was raised in Watertown, New York. After receiving his commission from the United States Naval Academy in 1997, he was designated a surface warfare officer in 1999.
His first sea tour was aboard USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) serving as Second Division Officer. His follow on assignment was as Auxiliaries Officer on USS Belleau Wood (LHA 3) where he participated in the hull swap with USS Essex (LHD 2). Upon completion of Department Head School he served as Operations Officer back aboard USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) which hull swapped with USS Tortuga (LSD 46). He then assumed duties as Operations Officer aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), supporting Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet. His final afloat tour was as the Damage Control Assistant for USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) after completing a third hull swap with USS Essex (LHD 2).
Shore assignment include duty at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, where he served as the 18th Company Officer on the Commandant of Midshipman's staff. He served in a Global Support Assignment billet as Detainee Operations Officer for the Joint Detention Group, Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He also completed instructor duty as the Expeditionary Warfare cell lead for the Maritime Warfighting and Department Head Training Directorate at Surface Warfare Officers School, Newport, Rhode Island. After being designated as a Shore Installation Management Specialty Career Path Officer, he served as Chief Staff Officer for Commander, Fleet Activities Chinhae, South Korea and most recently as Officer-in-Charge at Naval Support Activity Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Navy Yard Annex, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Commander Vaas holds master’s degrees in Leadership and Human Resource Development from the Naval Postgraduate School and in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College. His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal(2 awards), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal (5 awards), Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2 awards), and various campaign awards.