Arizona National Guard Commander set to retire Published Oct. 9, 2008 By Maj. Paul Aguirre Arizona National Guard Public Affairs PHOENIX -- After 43 years of distinguished service, The Adjutant General of the Arizona National Guard, Maj. Gen. David P. Rataczak, is retiring. He was originally appointed to the post on April 7, 1999 by then Governor Jane Dee Hull. His long and distinguished service includes: -More than nine years as The Adjutant General of the Arizona National Guard and Director of the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs; a state department with over 8,000 military and emergency management professionals. -Combat service in Vietnam in 1966 where he flew more than 900 combat hours in attack helicopters. -The deployment of more than 5,000 Soldiers and Airmen from the Arizona National Guard for Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. -Commander during the largest military operation conducted in Arizona, Operation Jump Start (the border mission) where more than 17,000 Soldiers and Airmen from 52 states and territories deployed to Arizona to support the United States Border Patrol. -President of The Adjutant General's Association, 2002-2004. "General Rataczak has served our nation and the Arizona National Guard with tremendous distinction, and I am sad to see him go," said Governor Janet Napolitano. "He commanded our National Guard during a time of growth and extreme challenge, and he has always performed very admirably. We could not have asked for a better adjutant general." The Arizona National Guard experienced tremendous growth and prosperity under General Rataczak's leadership, at a time when most organizations were experiencing down-sizing. The Arizona Army National Guard grew more than 60 percent in size during his tenure, while the Arizona Air National Guard was awarded the coveted Predator and Space Missions. Both organizations have secured missions and infrastructure that will ensure the viability of the AZ National Guard for generations to come. During the signature event of this generation on Sept. 11, 2001, General Rataczak was in the Pentagon when it was attacked. Fortunately, he was uninjured however, the events of that day would be at the center of the rest of his military career and would shape the future of the Arizona National Guard. His major awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal (with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster), Air Medal (with 37 Oak Leaf Clusters), Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Master Army Aviator Badge, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Meritorious Unit Citation and Arizona Medal of Valor. General Rataczak's retirement is effective Dec. 16.