LCDR Harders, a native of Essington, Pennsylvania enlisted in the NAVY in March of 1987. After graduation from Recruit Training Command San Diego, he reported to Naval Aircrew Candidate School and Rescue Swimmer School in Pensacola, Florida. Upon completion of AW “A” school, LCDR Harders reported to the HSL-31 “Arch Angels” for training in the SH-2F “Seasprite” helicopter.
After designation as a Naval Aircrewman in November 1988, he was assigned to HSL-34, in Norfolk, Virginia. From November 1988 to May 1993, he served as a Junior Aircrewman of Detachment FIVE, the “Desert Rats”, embarked in USS KIDD (DDG-993) in support of OPERATION DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM. During the war, LCDR Harders completed 58 combat missions, logged 110 combat flight hours and destroyed 14 enemy floating mines; earning the Combat Air medal. He then served on Detachment NINE, embarked in USS JACK WILLIAMS (FFG-24) in support of Multi-National interdiction Operations in the North Red Sea. Following SH-60B transition training, LCDR Harders stayed at HSL-40 as a Aircrew Instructor until June 1996, when he reported to HSL-44. LCDR Harders deployed three times as a Senior Aircrewman, embarked in USS VICKSBURG (CG-69), USS DOYLE (FFG-39) and USS SIMPSON (FFG-56). During this tour, he was the recipient of the HSL-44 AIRCREWMAN OF THE YEAR award, COMHSLWINGLANT AIRCREWMAN OF THE YEAR award and the Naval Helicopter Association (region three) AIRCREWMAN OF THE YEAR award. After being selected and initiated as a Chief Petty Officer in September 2001, LCDR Harders served at Afloat Training Group, Norfolk as the TYCOM Search and Rescue Evaluator until his selection into the Aviation Limited Duty Officer (LDO) program in September 2003.
Upon his commissioning, LCDR Harders reported to COMMANDER CRUISER DESTROYER GROUP TWELVE/FOURTEEN in Mayport, Florida and deployed twice in USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) battle group in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDON and SUMMER PULSE 04. LCDR Harders served as both the Helicopter Element Coordinator (HEC) and Flag Tactical Action Officer (FTAO) during combat operations against IRAQ. In May 2005, LCDR Harders reported to COMPATRECONWING ELEVEN. As a Detachment OIC for both SOUTHCOM DET-2 and MOCCLANT CENTCON DET-5, LCDR Harders provided crucial mission planning and flight support for MPRA squadrons in support of Counter Narco and Horn of Africa terrorism operations. Transferring to shore duty, LCDR Harders served at Naval Ocean Processing Facility DAM NECK, VA as the Current Operations Officer (CUROPS). While assigned to NOPF DAM NECK, he completed qualifications as Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS) Tactical Watch Officer, Theatre ASW Watch Officer and earned his IUSS breast insignia. Transferring back to sea duty, LCDR Harders served as a “Mad Fox” of VP-5 as the Operations Readiness Officer, deploying to both Okinawa, Japan and Sigonella, Sicily. In June 2013, LCDR Harders reported to his final command, SPAWAR Space Field Activity at the National Reconnaissance Office and served as the Norfolk Space Field Rep and SEAOPDET OIC. As such, LCDR Harders led a team of space experts whose mission is to build relationships with NAVY warfighters to bring the latest in space technologies, training and support to the Norfolk based fleet.
His awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Combat Air Medal (One Strike Flight), Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal (4th Award), Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal (6th Award), Good Conduct Medal (9th Award), Combat service ribbon (2nd Award) and various other service/unit awards, medals and ribbons.
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