Lieutenant Colonel Thomas A. Budrejko was born on 22 November 1974 in Jacksonville, Florida, but called Montville, Connecticut home. He attended the United States Naval Academy where he earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 24 May 1996.
LtCol Budrejko completed The Basic School in March 1997 and was assigned to primary flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. After completing flight school in April 1999, he was directed to report to Marine Helicopter Training Squadron 303 (HMT-303) to commence training in the AH-1 W Super Cobra.
Upon completion of training at HMT-303, he was designated pilot-qualified-in-model (PQM) in the AH-1 W and assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167 (HMLA-167) based at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina. During his first Fleet Marine Force tour, LtCol Budrejko detached from HMLA-167 in support of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) [MEU(SOC)] in 2001. During this deployment he participated in OPERATIN RAPID CHEETAH in Kosovo. In January 2003, he joined Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 and deployed in support of OPERATION IRAQUI FREEDOM (OIF).
Upon his return to HMLA-167 in September 2003, LtCol Budrejko attended the Weapons & Tactics Instructor (WTI) Course 1-04 and immediately deployed once again in support of OIF II as the AH-1W Tactics Officer. Within the span of his first fleet tour, LtCol Budrejko earned every flight designation possible for an AH-1W pilot. As a result of his outstanding performance as AH-1W WTI for HMLA-167, he was asked to provide several briefings athe the WTI- 1-05 class on tactics specific to OIF. Additionally, he acted as the primary author for the re-write of the AH-1W Tactics Manual and participated in the WTI 2-05 Class as an augment instructor.
In May 2005 he reported to Marine Aviation Weapons & Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, where he served as an AH-1W Tactics Instructor. In this capacity he instructed in six WTI Courses and seven Desert Talon exercises, attended the Royal Air Force tactics course, and attended an Israeli Defense Force Pilot Exchange. While at MAWTS-1 he served as the Weaponeering Subject Matter Expert, and during his third and final year at MAWTS-1, LtCol Budrejko served as the AH-1W Division Head.
From July 2008 to July 2009, LtCol Budrejko attended the USMC Command & Staff College in Quantico, Virginia where his comprehensive knowledge of Marine Corps Maneuver Warfare was recognized when he graduated with distinction and earned a Master’s Degree in Military Studies.
In July 2009 he reported to Marine Aircraft Group 39 at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California. He served as the Operations Officer for Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367 “Scarface” and deployed to Afghanistan in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF). During his tenure as the Operations Officer, he led the Scarface Operations Department in the preparation and execution of OPERATION MOSHTARAK in Marjah, Afghanistan, which remains the largest operation of the Afghan war to date.
Levying his leadership capabilities and tactical acumen, LtCol Budrejko was assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 in March 2011 to serve as Executive Officer. As the fourth Marine to hold this position since the squadron was founded in the summer of 2009, LtCol Budrejko played a pivotal role in setting a high standard for a developing squadron. LtCol Budrejko was instrumental in shifting the squadron’s focus from sourcing MEU detachments to deploying as a full squadron to OEF.
LtCol Budrejko’s next assignment was to be the Commanding Officer of HMLAT-303, where he would be a principal influence on every new H-1 pilot in the Marine Corps. LtCol Budrejko’s contributions throughout his 15 years of honorable service have left an indelible mark of Marine Corps Aviation by virtue of the training programs he implemented, the tactics he improved upon, and the profound impact he had on the pilots he instructed and mentored throughout his career.
LtCol Budrejko’s personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Individual Action Air Medal with Combat “V” (gold numeral 2), Air Medal/Strike Flight (numeral 19), the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat “V” (fourth award), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
LtCol Budrejko is survived by his wife, Dianna, their son Andrew, his parents CDR Donald and Mary Budrejko, and his siblings, Stanley Budrejko, Jillian Dietz and Catherine Alexander.