Colonel Bardo is a 1998 graduate of Whittier College in Los Angeles, CA with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology. He was commissioned through the Platoon Leaders Course as a Second Lieutenant in May 1998, designated a Naval Aviator in September 2001 and completed his initial qualification in the AV-8B Harrier in September 2002.
Col Bardo’s operational assignments include deployments aboard the USS Belleau Wood and USS Essex as part of the 11th and 31st Marine Expeditionary Units, as well as land based combat deployments in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM. He held squadron billets in both operations and maintenance including Pilot Training Officer, Director of Safety and Standardization, Maintenance Officer, and Operations Officer.
Col Bardo’s non-operational assignments include staff tours at the Group and Wing level, resident Intermediate Level School at The Naval War College, earning a Master’s Degree in National Security Studies, and an F-35 Fleet Replacement Squadron instructor pilot in VMFAT-501. He completed a Joint Assignment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation serving as a tactical air forces analyst focused on 5th and 6th generation strike fighters. His most recent assignment was in HQMC Aviation as the Director of the Cunningham Group responsible for aviation future capabilities and force structure development.
Col Bardo was among the initial cadre of seven USMC pilots selected to transition to the F-35 in 2008 and stand up VMFAT-501, the Marine Corps’ first F-35B training squadron. He commanded the first operational F-35B squadron, VMFA-121, from August 2015 until March 2017. Following command, Col Bardo attended the National War College, graduating in June 2018, completing a second Master’s Degree in National Security.
Col Bardo has over 2,000 flight hours in the AV-8B and F-35B and is a graduate of the MAWTS-1 Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course. He was privileged to serve in commands that have been awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation, and Meritorious Unit Commendation.