Michael Cardenas

Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Colonel Mike Cardenas, USAF (Ret.)

Colonel Michael Cardenas, U.S. Air Force (Ret.) was born in Washington D.C. and grew up in a large military family. They were stationed all over the U.S. and eventually settled in San Diego in 1973.  He left San Diego to pursue an aviation career and received his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1980, and earned his wings a year later. 

Cardenas became an aircraft commander and instructor in C-141 Starlifter.  During his three flying assignments in California and Washington he flew airlift missions around the world including in Southwest Asia, conducted Special Operations Low Level airdrops, and conducted numerous medical evacuation and humanitarian missions.

In 1986 he was selected to pursue his master’s degree in Business Administration at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA with a follow-on assignment to the underground Command Center at Strategic Air Command in Nebraska.   He was later assigned to the Pentagon as the lead operations briefer to the Air Force Chief of Staff.  In 1996, he took command of the 615 Air Mobility Squadron and was responsible for global expeditionary airfield operations. Cardenas completed his Air Force career as a strategic planner at U.S. Transportation Command near St. Louis.  

After his Air Force retirement in 2002, Cardenas moved back to San Diego and joined General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. where he is currently a Senior Director responsible for building and supporting unmanned aircraft for U.S. forces around the world. He and his wife Lisa, a native San Diegan, have been married 35 years. They have one son, Alex, who is working in the software industry.

Colonel Cardenas is the proud son of Brigadier General Robert Cardenas who was instrumental in the establishment of Miramar National Cemetery, and served as the inaugural Chairman of the Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation.  Colonel Cardenas looks forward to continuing his father’s legacy of service as MNCSF Board Member. 

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