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Lt. Gen. Richard Natonski, USMC (ret.)

Richard F. Natonski is a native of New Canaan, CT, he graduated from the University of Louisville in 1973, and was commissioned as a Marine Second Lieutenant.

Upon completion of The Basic School in 1974, Lt. Natonski served as a Platoon Commander and Company Executive Officer with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines participating in the evacuations of citizens from Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Saigon, Vietnam in 1975.

Transferring to the MCRD San Diego in July 1975, Lt. Natonski was assigned as a Series Commander in 1st Recruit Training Battalion and later as the battalion operations officer. In April 1978, Capt. Natonski was transferred to Marine Barracks 8th & I Washington D.C., where he served as Executive and Commanding Officer of Company B.

In 1981, he spent the summer as a Platoon Commander at OCS, prior to attending the Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, Va. In July 1982, he was assigned as the Operations Officer for 1st Bn., 5th Mar., at Camp Pendleton, Calif. In July 1984, Maj. Natonski transferred to HQMC, where he served in the Ground Combat Requirements Branch of PP&O. From 1987 to 1988, he attended the Marine Corps Command and Staff College.

Maj. Natonski was next assigned as an Observer to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in the Middle East. During this tour the UN Peacekeepers were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1988. In June 1989, he was transferred to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing at Cherry Point, N.C., where he was assigned as the G-3 Plans Officer. In July 1991, Lt. Col. Natonski served in 2nd MARDIV, as the Executive Officer of the 2nd Marine Regiment and in May 1992, assumed command of 1st Bn., 2nd Marines. As Commanding Officer, he participated in Operation GTMO, in Cuba and Operations Restore Hope and Continue Hope in Somalia. He completed his tour in the Division as the Deputy G-3.

From 1994 to 1995, he attended the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy. Col. Natonski served in II MEF operations, until assuming command of 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in October 1995. There he deployed twice supporting operations in Bosnia and Kuwait. In May 1998, he reported to the Joint Staff where he was assigned duties as the Chief of the Central Command Division, Joint Staff (J-3) Operations Directorate and subsequently the Deputy Director for Operations in the National Military Command Center. Next, BGen. Natonski served first as the Director of the Strategy and Plans Division and then as the Director of the Operations Division at PP&O. He was present in the Pentagon on 9/11.

In June 2002, BGen. Natonski assumed command of 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the invasion of Iraq, 2nd MEB was redesignated as Task Force Tarawa. They participated in the Battle of An Nasiriyah and supported the subsequent rescue of Jessica Lynch. In August 2004, MajGen Natonski assumed command of the 1st Marine Division. While in Iraq, he led the ground assault during the second Battle of Fallujah and ran security operations in the Al Anbar Province during the Iraqi National Elections in January 2005.
In 2006, LtGen. Natonski, was assigned as the Deputy Commandant, for PP&O. In August 2008, he assumed command of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command. On Sept. 8, 2010, he retired after more than 37 years of service.

Since retiring from the Armed Forces, he has served as a Senior Mentor for the Marine Corps at MSTP, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Naval Analyses, an Adjunct Professor for John Hopkins University and the United States Strategic Leadership Center, a Defense Consultant, a member of the Board of Governors Ave Maria School of Law and on a number of Advisory Boards including the National Museum of the Marine Corps’ (1976-Present Exhibit) and JINSA.

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