Both Flying For The Marines
Marine Corps Maj. Richard "Bart" Bartolomea says he feels at
home serving with his brother, Bill, in an operational
environment."It's awesome," he said. "I brought the board games,
but haven't had the chance to break them out yet."
The officer in charge of the Scan Eagle detachment from Marine
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2, Marine Aircraft Group 40,
Marine Expeditionary Brigade Afghanistan, Bart was commissioned as
a Marine officer after earning a bachelor's degree at Pennsylvania
State University in 1994.
Bill, known as "Chakka," is the director of the department of
safety standardization for Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron
169. He also earned a degree from Penn State, graduating in
As many boys do, the brothers aspired to be professional
athletes. But once high school rolled around, Bart had become
became interested in aviation and had aircraft posters covering his
walls. "When I was in high school, "Top Gun" came out, and I
imagined what it would be like to be a pilot," he said.
The military already had a prominent role in the Bartolomea
family. Their father, Richard Bartolomea, and their uncle, James
Craft, joined the Marine Corps in 1967. Even though Craft wasn't
related to the family at the time, he was a significant influence
in why the boys joined the Marine Corps. "Uncle Jim went to college
with our father and encouraged him to join the Corps with him,"
said Bart, whose father was an infantry officer in Vietnam.
"Twenty-six years later, our father retired as a lieutenant
colonel, and here we are now in Afghanistan."
So when the time came, the decision to join wasn't too
"After growing up in Quantico and observing my dad and his
friends when I was younger, it was an easy decision when I actually
thought about it," Bill said. "Bill actually knew what he wanted to
do," Bart noted. "He didn't join because I did; he was enrolled in
the ROTC at Penn State for a while."
With their father working at Penn State as the director of
sports camp and managing the ROTC program, it seemed military
service was inevitable.
"After I got my degree I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, so I went
and talked to my father," Bart said. "I told him I didn't really
want to pursue journalism and I wanted to go to law school. He told
me that I would have to pay for it, so that was out of the
question. Then he asked me if I ever thought about the Marine
Both brothers not only were commissioned as Marine Corps
officers, but also became pilots. Bill started flying AH-1W Super
Cobras in 1997, and Bart started flying CH-53Ds in the same year.
Bart eventually transitioned into flying Cobras 10 years later and
transitioned again to fly unmanned aerial vehicles.
"Flying UAVs is neat, but after flying a Cobra, there's nothing
really like it," Bart said. With different billets but the same
line of work, it was just a matter of time until the brothers
encountered each other in the fleet. "It is really cool," Bart
said. "One day I was watching a few Cobras complete a mission with
our UAVs, and later that day I asked my brother if he was flying.
He said he was, and I told him I watched him with our UAVs. Even
though I am not flying Cobras at the moment, I still get to operate
with my UAVs and watch my brother fly his Cobra."
Bill and "Bart" Bartolomea
This is Bart's first deployment and Bill's fifth. When it comes
down to it, the brothers are here to complete their duties as
Marines. "The reason why I am here is to provide air support for
the grounds guys," Bill said. "Whether you're a grunt or with [the
combat logistics battalion] or whatever, our mission is the same:
to provide air support for all of our Marines."
The brothers are happy to be deployed at the same time, and
their families fully support them. "Our mother was a Marine Corps
wife for a while, and she helps my wife and Bart's wife when they
need anything," Bill said.
Although they may not be working side by side, the "Bart
Brothers" patrol the skies over Afghanistan's Helmand province,
flying top cover for servicemembers helping to free the local
population from the intimidation and aggression of insurgents.
ANN Salutes Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Samuel Nasso, serving with
Marine Air Group 40