Alex Espinosa


“I had a blast at SOU.  It was a great experience, made better by the tight community that supports the school.  It also didn’t hurt that Mt. Ashland was only 30 minutes away.  I was on that mountain teaching snow-boarding six days a week during the winter!”


Ashland, Oregon


BS Chemistry, 2002

Current Occupation

F/A-18 Fighter Pilot, US Marine Corps

Alex’s Story

Alex Espinoza grew up in Ashland and graduated from Ashland High School in 1997. After graduation, he enlisted in the US Marine Corps and went through boot camp and became a reservist. Alex enrolled at SOU and majored in chemistry. “SOU has a great chemistry program and it was at home so it was an easy to decision for furthering my education,” he said. While in school at SOU, Alex also participated in the National Student Exchange at University of Alaska at Fairbanks for one year. He was also in the Concert and Chamber Choir his last two years at SOU. “The trips and concerts were outstanding.  I also fondly remember my chemistry professors. They took the time to ensure the students were grasping the material and would provide extra assistance to those that struggled, namely me,” he explained.

After graduating from SOU with a degree in chemistry and a minor in biology, Alex attended the US Marine Corps Officer Candidate School at Quantico, VA, earning his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was chosen to attend flight school at NAS Pensacola, an intense and rigorous academic program in Pensacola, Florida, where he earned the coveted wings of gold as a Marine Corps aviator.

Alex joined his first F/A-18 fighter squadron, VMFA(AW)-225 and deployed to Iraq flying close air support missions for Marines and Soldiers on the ground in 2007-2008.  After a one year combat deployment his squadron went to Japan for seven months on the unit deployment program.  He left VMFA(AW)-225 after three years and moved to Iwakuni Japan, where he flew the C-12 Huron for a year, shuttling Marine and Navy VIPs. He then moved to VMFA(AW)-242 (The Bats) based in Iwakuni and stayed for three years.  During that time he went to the USMC Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) course and became the Pilot Training Officer of VMFA(AW)-242 (  He departed Japan in 2013 to Newport, RI, for a one year hitch at the Naval Command and Staff War College, where his SOU schooling served him well. “I hadn’t written a paper since my SOU graduation, so I leaned heavily on my memory and the initial lessons I learned while in Ashland. SOU served me well,” said Alex. He went on to earn his Master’s Degree in National Security Strategies.

After earning his graduate degree, Alex moved back to Iwakuni, Japan,  where he is currently assigned as the Marine Aviation Training System Site OIC,  where he is the weapons and tactics instructor and gets to fly  with the three F/A-18 squadrons in Japan to ensure that the pilots adhere to the standards established by HQ US Marine Corps.

Alex is married to his wife Kimberly and they have two boys, Austin (6) and Aaron (3). He enjoys swimming, home brewing and sailing in his spare time. Alex also has advised Civil Air Patrol students about the virtues of military aviation.