Lieutenant Commander Stephen Gardipee, a native of Belton, Texas, enlisted in the US Navy in 1993 and attended Recruit Training in Great Lakes, Illinois. Trained as an Aviation Administrationman in Meridian, Mississippi, his first operational assignment was with Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 112 (VAW-112) in San Diego, California.
As a Petty Officer Second Class he was assigned in 1997 to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas performing his duties for the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA). During this assignment he earned an Associate Degree from Del Mar College and then transferred to Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (Light) 51 (HSL-51) in Atsugi, Japan where he advanced to Petty Officer First Class (AZ1) and was then selected to participate in the Enlisted Commissioning Program (ECP).
He completed his Bachelor of Business Administration Degree at the University of North Florida and earned his commission from Jacksonville University Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) in 2003. He attended primary flight training with Training Squadron 28 (VT-28) in Corpus Christi, Texas and then volunteered for a 16 month assignment with the 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion in Tikrit, Iraq.
While there he served as the Battalion S4 (Logistics Officer), providing executive oversight of 16 property books for five Civil Affairs Companies and three Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Northern Iraq.
In 2007, he redeployed and attended the Aviation Maintenance Officer (AMO) course in Milton, Florida. Assigned to the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two Six (HSC-26), he served as the squadron’s Material Control Officer he managed OPTAR funding for ten MH-60S helicopters. In addition, he completed two deployments as Detachment Maintenance Officer (DETMO) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2009 and 2010.
LCDR Gardipee was then assigned to the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Detachment Sigonella, Sicily in 2011 as Division Officer for five production divisions supporting US and NATO aircraft during Operations ODYSSEY DAWN and UNIFIED PROTECTOR. Selected as the Assistant Officer-in-Charge (AOIC) he later deployed to AIMD Bahrain to fill a critical manning deficiency as the AOIC for six months.
In 2014, he departed Sicily for the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) in Fort Lee, Virginia. A team member of the Combat Support Center responsible for the systematic deployment and redeployment of military, civilian, and Joint Service Individual Augmentees for Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. He completed the Naval Postgraduate School Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) distance learning program during this tour.
Lieutenant Commander Gardipee’s awards and qualifications include: the Purple Heart Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (two awards), Army Commendation Medal, Joint Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (four awards), as well as other individual and unit awards. Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) certified in: Production, Quality, and Manufacturing (PQM) Level II and Program Management (PM) Level I.
LCDR Gardipee is married to the former Amy Nicholson of Kansas City, Missouri.