Lieutenant Colonel Gardner graduated from Woodbridge Senior High School in Woodbridge, Virginia in 1988. He joined the Marine Corps Reserve as part of the Category P program on November 10, 1987 and was assigned during 1987 to 1988 to the Supply Company, 4th Supply Battalion, 4th Marine Division. He attended Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island graduating as a Private First Class in November 1988. He was assigned to Delta Company, 4th Light Armored Vehicle Battalion. He then attended the Naval Academy Preparatory School at Newport, Rhode Island from June 1989 until May 1990. He was returned to Delta Company, 4th Light Armored Infantry Battalion and subsequently deployed with 2nd Light Armored Infantry Battalion in Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM. During this conflict, then Corporal Gardner received the Purple Heart for wounds received in action. Upon returning to the U.S. he was a sent to the U.S. Naval Academy and became a member of the Class of 1995. He graduated in May 1995 with a BS in History and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.
After completing TBS in 1996, he was assigned as a Counterdrug Officer, Special Warfare Division at Quantico while awaiting his school seat to become an Adjutant. During this assignment he fielded and created two teams of 10 Marines and Sailors to deploy to South America to provide counterdrug and riverine assault training to friendly nations. In January 1997, 2ndLt Gardner began training to become an Adjutant at Camp Johnson, North Carolina. Graduating as an Adjutant in March 1997, he was assigned to Marine Wing Support Group 27 as the Group Adjutant.
In 2000 he was transferred and became the Adjutant for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable). During this tour of duty and over 15 months of sea duty, he supported and participated in Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, RAPID CHEETAH/JOINT GUARDIAN, DYNAMIC RESPONSE and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
In 2003 Captain Gardner, was transferred to the resident program at the Expeditionary Warfare School in Quantico Virginia as a student. Following graduation he was assigned to the Marine Barracks, Washington as the Adjutant. He was also assigned as the Logistics Officer and Officer in Charge of the Student Services Division, Marine Corps Institute Company. During this tour he completed the non-resident Command and Staff College and was promoted to Major in August 2005. During the three year assignment he was a White House Social Aide and as the Officer in Charge, of over 146 different social events within the White House, supporting thousands of guests to President George W. Bush.
In 2007 Major Gardner was transferred to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the Deputy Branch Head, Personnel Readiness Division, J1 Manpower and Personnel Directorate. During this assignment he was assigned as a Joint Staff representative to work with the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Joint Manning Documents providing US military support from all the services to numerous Joint Task Forces throughout Europe and Afghanistan.
In Jan 2010 he attended the Joint Armed Forces Staff College receiving his Joint Specialty Officer qualification.
In July 2010, he was transferred to the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing (2d MAW) at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point to be the Deputy G-1. In September 2010, he was assigned as the Assistant Chief of Staff G-1, 2d MAW and subsequently assigned as the Assistant Chief of Staff G-1, 2d MAW Forward, participating in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. He returned in March 2012 and returned to his duties as the Assistant Chief of Staff G-1, 2d MAW.
Lieutenant Colonel Gardner’s personal awards include the Joint Staff Identification Badge, Purple Heart Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal w/ 3 Gold Stars in lieu of fourth award, Navy / Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal w/ oak leaf, Combat Action Ribbon, and the Presidential Unit Commendation.