A native of San Diego, Rear Admiral Mark Emerson graduated from the University of Florida and was commissioned an Ensign through the NROTC Program in June 1976. He was designated a Naval Aviator in October 1977 and flew the A-7E Corsair II during his first sea assignments with the "Stingers" of Attack Squadron (VA) 113 (1978-81) and the "Argonauts" of VA 147 (1987-89). He served as Assistant Strike Operations Officer (1984-87) aboard USS Midway (CV 41).
In 1989, Emerson transitioned to the F/A-18 and served a second tour embarked aboard Midway and USS Independence (CV 62) as the Operations Officer for Carrier Air Wing 5. In September 1990, he deployed for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm where he participated in Navy strikes and coordinated Joint and Coalition air strike planning.
Emerson returned to VA 113 (1992-94) where he served as Executive Officer and then Commanding Officer. He was Deputy Commander of Carrier Air Wing 9 (1996-97) before he assumed command (1997-99) while deployed to the Persian Gulf aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68) supporting Operation Southern Watch.
Emerson's shore tours include duty as a Flight Instructor in Training Squadron 4 (1982-84) and Atlantic Fleet Liaison/Special Assistant for Aviation Matters on the Navy Staff (1994-96). He received a master's degree from National Defense University in June 2000 and subsequently served as Executive Assistant for the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (2000-2002).
Emerson’s first Flag assignment was Assistant Deputy Commandant for Aviation, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps (2003-2004). In February 2005, Emerson assumed command of Strike Force Training Pacific. He is currently the Commander of Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev.
Emerson has been awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (3), Meritorious Service Medal (3), Air Medal with combat V (4), Commendation Medal with combat V (3), Achievement Medal, and numerous individual, campaign, and unit awards.