LtCol James J. Bardo
Lieutenant Colonel Bardo is a graduate of Whittier College and holds a B.A. in Biology. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in May of 1998 and attended The Basic School that fall. Upon completion, he began Aviation Preflight training at NAS Pensacola, FL. He conducted his primary flight training in the T-34C while assigned to VT-28 at NAS Corpus Christi, TX. Following primary flight training, he was reassigned to VT-22 at NAS Kingsville, TX. He earned his Naval Aviator's Wings in September of 2001. He completed fleet replacement training in the AV-8B Harrier at Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 at MCAS Cherry Point, NC.
In September of 2002, First Lieutenant Bardo reported to MCAS Yuma and was assigned to Marine Attack Squadron 214. While assigned to the "Black Sheep" he served as the Powerline Division Officer and a daily schedule writer. Promoted to Captain in October of 2002, he deployed in support of Operations Southern Watch (OSW) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF) I. In spring of 2004, Captain Bardo deployed aboard the USS Belleau Wood as part of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). Upon reaching the Persian Gulf, the 11th MEU transitioned ashore in support of OIF II. Upon returning home from deployment, Captain Bardo transferred to 3D MAW headquarters in Miramar where he augmented the G-3 Staff while maintaining currency in the AV-8B.
In June of 2006, Captain Bardo returned to the "Black Sheep" and completed the flight leadership and instructor prerequisites to attend the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course. Upon completion of WTI class 1-07 in October, Captain Bardo served as the Pilot Training Officer. In January 2007, he deployed to Japan for one year supporting two back-to-back 31st MEUs. In October of 2008, he was promoted to Major and began serving as the Aircraft Maintenance Officer. He deployed in May 2009 to Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan in support of Marine Aircraft Group 40, 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade flying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
In December of 2009, Major Bardo reported to Eglin Air Force Base, FL as one of the initial cadre of instructors tasked with standing up the "Warlords" of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, the USMC's first F-35B squadron. In January of 2011, Major Bardo was selected to attend Intermediate Level School at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island where he earned a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies. He returned to VMFAT-501 where he completed transition training to the F-35B. While at VMFAT-501, he served as the Director of Safety and Standardization as well as the Operations Officer.
In January of 2015, Lieutenant Colonel Bardo reported to MAG-13, located at MCAS Yuma, Arizona and assumed command of VMFA-121 in July of 2015.
Lieutenant Colonel Bardo has over 1800 flight hours, primarily in the AV-8B and F-35B and over 480 combat hours in support of OSW, OIF, and OEF. His qualifications include: Weapons and Tactics Instructor, Mission Commander, Training Landing Signal Officer, Air Combat Tactics Instructor, Low Altitude Tactics Instructor, Functional Check Flight pilot and Demonstration pilot. His personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with Strike Numeral "12", Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, third award, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, fourth award.