A native of Tucson, Arizona, Commander Justin Banz graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2001, earning a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Commander Banz reported to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida for flight training in October 2001. After earning his Naval Aviator Wings in March 2003, Commander Banz reported to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light FOUR ONE (HSL-41) for initial fleet training in the SH-60B Seahawk.
Commander Banz began his operational flying in May 2004 with the “Warlords” of HSL-51 in Atsugi, Japan. As part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces, he participated in numerous support operations on ships deployed in the Korean and Western Pacific regions and earned his Aircraft Commander Designation in June 2005. While with the Warlords, he served as a Detachment Operations and Maintenance Officer and Squadron Quality Assurance Officer.
Commander Banz later reported to San Diego, California in 2007, where he transitioned to the MH-60R Seahawk and served as a Fleet Replacement Squadron Instructor and Training Department Head in HSM-41. In December 2008, he earned a Masters in Global Leadership from the University of San Diego and later reported to Expeditionary Strike Group THREE at Naval Base San Diego where he served as the Assistant Operations Officer and Humanitarian and Domestic Disaster lead planner.
Commander Banz returned to the fleet as a Department Head in Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron THREE FIVE (HSM-35), the “Magicians”. While with the Magicians, he next served as Squadron Maintenance Officer and oversaw the squadron’s initial certifications for both the MH-60R Seahawk and MQ-8B Firescout. In 2013, he was selected as the Squadron Officer of the Year.
Following his department head tour, Commander Banz attended the United States Naval War College. As part of the senior officer course, he earned a Masters in National Security and Strategic Studies and graduated with Distinction. While at the War College, he was selected to the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group as a Director Fellow and directly contributed to the Navy’s ongoing Talent Management initiatives.
Commander Banz has been awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals in addition to other unit and personal awards.