General William L. "Spider" Nyland served as the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C. from September 2002 until September 2005. He retired from active duty 1 November 2005.
General Nyland was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps under the NROTC program upon graduation from the University of New Mexico in 1968. In addition to attaining an M.S. degree from the University of Southern California (1980), his formal military education includes The Basic School (1968), Naval Aviation Flight Training (NFO) (1969), Amphibious Warfare School (1975), Navy Fighter Weapons School (TopGun) (1977), College of Naval Command and Staff, Naval War College (1981), and Air War College (1988).
After being assigned to VMFA-531, General Nyland was ordered to Vietnam where he flew 122 combat missions with VMFA-314 and VMFA-115. In later tours of duty he flew additional combat sorties in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. General Nyland had multiple operational squadron tours and saw duty as the Congressional Liaison/Budget Officer, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C. In 1984 he served as the Operations Officer, Marine Aircraft Group-24, 1st Marine Amphibious Brigade, and he then commanded VMFA-232, the Marine Corps' oldest and most decorated fighter squadron, from July 1985 to July 1987.
General Nyland subsequently served as section chief for the Central Command section, European Command/Central Command Branch, Joint Operations Division, Directorate of Operations (J-3), Joint Staff, Washington, D.C. In July 1990, he assumed command of Marine Aviation Training Support Group (MATSG), Pensacola. Following his command of MATSG he assumed duties as Chief of Staff, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (2dMAW) on July 5, 1992, and assumed additional duties as Assistant Wing Commander on November 10, 1992. Promoted to Brigadier General on September 1, 1994, he was assigned as Assistant Wing Commander, 2nd MAW serving in that billet until December 1, 1995.
He served next on the Joint Staff, J-8, as the Deputy Director for Force Structure and Resources, completing that tour on June 30, 1997. He was advanced to Major General on July 2, 1997, and assumed duties as the Deputy Commanding General, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C. He served next as the Commanding General, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina from July 1998 to June 2000. He was advanced to Lieutenant General on 30 June 2000 and assumed duties as the Deputy Commandant for Programs and Resources, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. He next assumed duties as the Deputy Commandant for Aviation on 3 August 2001. He was advanced to General on 4 September 2002 and assumed his duties as the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps on 10 September 2002.
Upon retirement he returned to Pensacola, FL, where he offers consulting services from his home office. He is a former fellow for the Institute of Defense & Business and served in an instructional role for Duke University (College of Continuing Education) in leadership training performed in support of BAE for four years. He is active as a Senior Mentor for the National Defense University in the “Capstone”, “Keystone” and “Pinnacle” programs. He formerly served as the Chairman of the Board for the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (twice) and as the Chairman for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation. He also served as The National Commander for the Marine Corps Aviation Association from Jan 2007 - Jan 2010.
Non Profit Boards:
Member, Board of Directors, Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, New York, NY
Member, President’s Council, Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola, FL
Chairman Emeritus, Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation
Member, Board of Directors, Sacred Heart Health System, Sacred Heart Hospital, Pensacola, FL
Institute for Human Machine Cognition (IHMC) –Deputy Director for Defense R&D
updated May 2021