Colonel Paul Merida is a native of Oakland, California and graduated from the University of California at Davis in 1994. In 1995, he was commissioned and upon completion of TBS and IOC he served from 1996 to 1999 with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines. While assigned to 3/8, he served as a Rifle Platoon Commander participating with SPMAGTF-8 in support of Operation Assured Response in the U.S Embassy, Monrovia, Liberia as well Operation Marathon in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He then served as a Weapons Platoon Commander where he completed a Unit Deployment Program to Okinawa. Upon return from UDP, he deployed again with BLT 3/8 as the 81mm Mortar Platoon Commander and completed a deployment with the 26th MEU. During this deployment he participated in Operation Joint Guardian in Kosovo and Avid Response in Turkey.
From 2000-2002, Colonel Merida transferred to the Marine Corps Combat Development Command where he served as the Staff Secretary and Adjutant within the Warfighting Development Integration Directorate. In June 2002, he left MCCDC and attended Expeditionary Warfare School, Quantico, Virginia where he graduated with honors.
From 2003-2006 Colonel Merida returned to Camp Lejeune where he served with 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. Serving as a Rifle Company Commander, he completed a deployment with the 22d MEU in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Upon the battalion’s return from Afghanistan Colonel Merida served as the Battalion Operations Officer for 1/6 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
From 2006-2009 Colonel Merida was assigned to the staff of The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia. During that period, Colonel Merida served as a section head in the instructor group as well as a company commander for two student companies.
In 2009 Colonel Merida attended the Marine Corps Command and Staff College where he was a distinguished graduate and earned a Masters Degree in Military Studies. Following Command and Staff College, he attended the Marine Corps School of Advanced Warfighting and earned a Masters Degree in Operational Studies.
In 2011, Colonel Merida was assigned to 2d Marine Division (FWD) as the G-3 Future Operations Officer in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. In May, 2012 Colonel Merida took command of 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. In this capacity he participated in a MEU deployment in 2014 with the 22d MEU. In 2015 he gave up command and served as the Regimental Executive Officer for 6th Marine Regiment.
From 2015-2016 he attended the Marine Corps War College, graduating with a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies. In 2016, he was assigned to the Joint Staff, J-5 where he worked strategy, plans, and policy issues on the Iran Desk. In 2018 he was assigned as the Branch Head for the Strategy Branch at HQMC PP&O.