In memoriam: Col. Tara Lunardi, OSI’s deputy commander

  • Published
  • By AFOSI Public Affairs

It is with profound sadness and deep respect for a remarkable colleague that we announce the passing of Col. Tara R. Lunardi, the Deputy Commander of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, who died peacefully Feb. 7, 2024, following a valiant battle against cancer. She was 48.


Col. Lunardi served as OSI’s deputy commander since July 2023, working as part of the senior leadership team in helping to guide OSI’s strategic direction and impacting the leadership of more than 260 units worldwide.


Her career was dedicated to the global OSI mission as the Department of the Air Force’s premier law enforcement and counterintelligence capability, a commitment surpassed only by her selfless service and a passion for the people of OSI. She is remembered with deep affection throughout the command as a leader, mentor, colleague and dear friend.


Col. Lunardi’s leadership journey began at Indiana University where she was a 1997 distinguished graduate of the Reserve Officer Training Corps program. She received a degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice.


After commissioning and completing training as an OSI Special Agent, also as a distinguished graduate, she served as the operations officer at Detachment 422 at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, and later as executive officer and chief of counterintelligence at the 62nd Field Investigations Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan.


From there, Col. Lunardi moved on to various leadership roles, from commanding Detachment 531 at Aviano Air Base, Italy, and Detachment 802 at Patrick AFB, Florida, to later leading OSI operational elements in the national capital region at the squadron level.


In 2007, Col. Lunardi commanded the Strategic Counterintelligence Directorate unit in Irbil, Iraq, managing intelligence operations in a hostile-fire area and demonstrating unsurpassed combat leadership with superior skill and courage.


Outside of OSI, Col. Lunardi served in several high-profile positions, including as senior executive officer for the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force, the Deputy Director of Security at the White House Military Office, and as Deputy Department Chair and Assistant Professor at the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security. In each of these assignments she excelled at nurturing future military leaders.


Col. Lunardi entered OSI’s senior leadership ranks first as the vice commander of the 7th Field Investigations Region, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, and later as commander of the 2nd FIR headquartered at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. In this role, she provided strategic direction for all OSI support to Air Combat Command units and operations across the continental United States, as well as in the Central and Southern Command areas of responsibility, leading hundreds of active duty, Reserve and civilian Airmen in complex global law enforcement, counterintelligence and force protection efforts.


In her nearly 27 years of military service, Col. Lunardi was recognized with numerous awards and decorations, to include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, numerous instances of the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, and the Operation Iraqi Freedom Campaign Medal. Col. Lunardi was also the 2017 recipient of the Commandant’s Award from Air War College.


The entire OSI family joins a grateful nation in acknowledging Col. Lunardi’s remarkable and honorable service and in extending condolences to her family and friends.