Commander Gardner, a native of New England, North Dakota, graduated from the United States Naval Academy in May 2001 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science. He then reported to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida for flight training in July 2001, and was designated a Naval Flight Officer (NFO) in May 2003 at the 562nd Flying Training Squadron at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas
CDR Gardner began his operational flying in August 2003 with the “Ironmen” of VQ-3 at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. While with the Ironmen, he made numerous CONUS detachments in support of strategic nuclear deterrence, qualifying as an E-6B Assistant NFO NATOPS Instructor and Mission Commander Evaluator.
In December 2006, CDR Gardner served as the Flag Aide to Deputy Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia. In April 2008, he reported to USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74) in Bremerton, Washington as a Catapult and Arresting Gear Officer. During this tour, he participated in COMPTUEX, JTFEX, and the 2009 Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployment.
Following his disassociated sea tour, CDR Gardner reported in April 2010 to United States Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska for his joint tour where he served as the Communications Officer for the Airborne Command Post. During this tour, he also completed Joint Professional Military Education, Phase I, and earned his Master of Business Administration with Finance degree from Bellevue University.
CDR Gardner then reported to the “Shadows” of VQ-4 at Tinker Air Force Base as a department head in August 2012 where he served as the Tactics Officer, Training Officer, and Operations Officer. He was then assigned to Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, California in June 2015, where he was the E-6B Readiness Officer for the Commander, Naval Air Forces, Pacific Fleet.
CDR Gardner has accumulated over 2,200 flight hours. His personal awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (five awards), and various service awards and ribbons.