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In Memoriam

Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Earl "Bark" Gardner

Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Earl "Bark" Gardner

27 July 1993

Visitor Comments

Incredible Man
surething77, Apr 14, 2007 - 03:16 AM

I knew Maj Gardner while stationed at MacDill AFB, FL from 1990-1993. He was the kind of officer that all pilots should strive to be. The first time he flew my jet, he took the time to talk with me...asking questions about my career and family, goals, etc. Every time he flew my jet after that he would ask about my wife and kids by name...remembering our earlier conversations and asking me how things were going with various other topics we had talked about. He wasn't the typical fighter jock. He humanized the aircrew.

Shortly after I PCS'd to Kunsan, LtCol Gardner arrived in the same squadron. I didn't get much chance to interact with him at Kunsan. I was working the morning Shorty's F-16 landed on LtCol Gardner's. When I heard the details and discovered he was killed, I was deeply saddened to the point of tears. He was an incredible man and a fine officer. I've thought of him often over the years. He taught me the importance of interacting with subordinates, learning about them as individuals and genuinely caring about their circumstances. I've used his example and reaped the rewards in my own career.

You will always be remembered, Sir...

Anonymous, Sep 24, 2007 - 06:43 PM

I was in the 80th FS with "Bark". As a fresh new Lieutenant new the F-16 he taught me the benifits commoradery and dicipline of wingmanship.

His loss was a bad day for the F-16 community and the Juvats, and wake up call to our mortality.

Aduntas Fortuna Juvat!


Who Dat Juvat
darkstarr33, Oct 27, 2009 - 05:53 PM

I was fortunate to have been stationed at MacDill, and Kunasn with Maj Gardner he was always a people person with interest in everyone he met. As a crew chief that was huge he was one of those pilots who made it a pleasure to launch and recover even after hours if you saw him on the street he would always stop and chat even drink a cool one I'll never forget the day he found out he made LT Col what a night you would have thought he was just elected president of the United States he loved the Air Force and everything about it. He will be missed, but never forgoten

Nate, May 29, 2010 - 06:00 AM

I want to thank all of you for leaving your comments as Ralph was my father and I truly appreciate your memories of him as a person and officer. Thanks again for remembering -- it is very heart-warming to know that after 17 years my family and I are not the only people who remember what a great man, and father, he was.


Smackwad Roomie
Karl Dittmer, Jan 05, 2011 - 05:28 AM

Ralph and I were smacks together in Tiger 10 back in the day and later flew together when he instructed me at MacDill in 1988 when I finally got checked out in the F-16.

He was great to party with, a good friend, and had a most excellent sense of humor!

Miss you bud.


Taco, Nov 26, 2012 - 12:10 AM

Ralph, or Grande as he was known at Kunsan, was my best friend and will never be forgotten. I have some rememberances of his that I hold dear. If his son, Nate, ever wants them, contact me at

Randy Hunt, Jul 31, 2015 - 12:32 AM

I knew Ralph while we were both Instructors together in Macdill. Maybe in the juvats as well but my memory lacks. He was a very good dude and a good friend. I was stunned to learn of his crash back in the day. If it can happen to him it can happen to anyone.

A Fine Man
Lt Col Robert Dwyer, retired, Dec 06, 2017 - 02:51 AM

I was Ralph's flight commander and IP when he went through F-4 RTU at Luke AFB. I flew with him many times over the five month course. He was an excellent pilot, always had something good to say and was liked and admired by his classmates and instructors. I was deeply saddened when I learned of his passing. RIP, Bro.

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