Capt. Marcos Cantu, a native of Missouri City, Texas, was commissioned in December 1997 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology from Texas A&M University and designated a naval aviator in August 1999.
His operational career began in 2000 with Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 46 in Mayport, Florida, where he completed deployments aboard USS O’Bannon (DD-987) in support of counter-drug operations in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific and USS DeWert (FFG-45) in support of 6th Fleet and Standing Naval Forces, Atlantic.
In 2003, he was selected to serve ashore at HSL-40 as a Fleet Replacement Squadron instructor pilot and assistant operations officer where he managed more than 15,000 flight and simulator hours to ensure the successful graduation of over 120 fleet replacement pilots and aircrew annually. Additionally during this time, he was awarded the Air Medal for rescues conducted with his aircrew during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
His next sea duty assignment was aboard USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) in Norfolk, Virginia as the aircraft handler and mini-boss in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2008, Cantu reported to the Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants as a case writer for combatant status review tribunals.
Cantu’s department head tour began in 2009 as officer-in-charge of HSL-46 Detachment Six. Embarked aboard USS Vella Gulf (CG-72), he and his detachment deployed to the European Command area of responsibility as part of the first east coast ballistic missile defense deployment. Upon returning, Cantu was assigned as the squadron maintenance officer and subsequently named the HSL-46 and HSMWINGLANT Officer of the Year for 2011.
After graduating from the U.S. Naval War College where he earned a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies, he served as the U.S. Strategic Command, JFCC-Global Strike JF51 deputy division chief for nuclear strike planning.
In October 2015, Cantu was selected to establish Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 79 at Naval Air Station North Island, California as its first commanding officer.
Following two years with the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy, Cantu served as the OPNAV N98 manpower branch head where he was responsible for resourcing all naval aviation officer and enlisted manpower requirements. In April 2021, Cantu assumed the duties of executive officer for Naval Air Station Jacksonville.
He has flown over 2,200 flight hours and is the recipient of the Legion of Merit (two awards), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three awards), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards), Humanitarian Service Medal, along with several unit commendations and awards.