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He entered the Naval Reserve in 1967 and began active duty in the Naval Aviation Officer's program in Pensacola, Florida. After receiving his Wings of Gold in 1969 at Kingsville, Texas, LTJG Bartholomay was assigned to the replacement F-4 Phantom Air Wing in San Diego, California and then to Fighter Squadron 161, Carrier Air Group 5 aboard USS Midway. After one tour of duty in Viet Nam, LT Bartholomay was assigned as Weapons Training Officer and completed advanced fighter weapons and air combat maneuvering training at TOPGUN in February, 1972 where he achieved the status of "Top Gun".
During his second tour of duty onboard USS Midway in Vietnam, LT Bartholomay, his Radar Intercept Officer Oran Brown, his wingman LT Pat Arwood, and his RIO LT Mike "Taco" Bell, confronted and shot down two North Vietnamese MiG-19 enemy aircraft on May 18, 1972 for which they were awarded the Silver Star.
Completing his Naval Reserve duty in December 1972, LT Bartholomay had accumulated 267 carrier landings, 1200 flight hours, and was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, 10 Strike Flight Air Medals. After leaving the Navy, he went on to work as a weapons system engineer at Point Mugu, CA, consulting on the Sidewinder Missile. At the end of that consulting contract, he returned to the Chicago area and worked in the insurance, investment, and technology industries.
- "Appendix E. Enemy Aircraft Shot Down by Naval Aviators in Southeast Asia, 1965 - 1973". Department of the Navy :Naval Historical Center. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
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