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Macke concludes 26-year career in Air Force and Kentucky Air Guard

Maj. Gen. Mark R. Kraus (left), assistant to the commander of Air Forces Central Command and a former commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, presents the Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal to Col. Robert J. Macke, the outgoing director of operations for Joint Forces Headquarters Air Component, Kentucky National Guard, during Macke’s retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., June 07, 2014.  Macke served in the active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard for 26 years. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Horton)

Maj. Gen. Mark R. Kraus (left), assistant to the commander of Air Forces Central Command and a former commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, presents the Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal to Col. Robert J. Macke, the outgoing director of operations for Joint Forces Headquarters Air Component, Kentucky National Guard, during Macke’s retirement ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., June 07, 2014. Macke served in the active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard for 26 years. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Horton)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- After 26 years of service to the active-duty Air Force and Air National Guard, Col. Robert J. Macke was officially retired in a ceremony here June 7.

Macke, the outgoing director of operations for Joint Forces Headquarters Air Component, Kentucky National Guard, was presented with a Meritorious Service Medal and a Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal in front of an audience comprised of friends, family, co-workers and fellow Airmen.

Maj. Gen. Mark R. Kraus, the assistant to the commander of Air Forces Central Command and a former commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, took the podium to reflect on Macke's illustrious career.

"I've been Robert's commander, either directly or up the chain a step, for most of his time in the Air National Guard and have been a grateful beneficiary of his skill, leadership and talent," Kraus said. "When I was his squadron commander I knew that I could send him to fly any mission, literally anywhere in the world, and he would get it done. By the book, he would take care of his people and bring the aircraft back in one piece. I never had to worry about that.

"As his group and wing commander, I could tap him as a deployed mission commander and know that he could operate in any environment to lead by example for those in his charge and demand the best from them to get the mission accomplished," Kraus continued.

"Finally, as the commander of the (Kentucky) Air Guard, I could launch him to head any program, project or exercise and never wonder about the final result. Outstanding," Kraus exclaimed. "Always."

Macke received his commission through Miami University's ROTC program on May 8, 1988. He attended undergraduate pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, and was assigned to Laughlin's 86th Flying Training Squadron upon graduation as a first-assignment instructor pilot flying T-38 Talon aircraft. While assigned to Laughlin, Macke's jobs included flight scheduler, runway supervisory unit controller, squadron executive and assistant flight commander.

In September 1993, Macke was assigned to the 2nd Airlift Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, flying C-130E Hercules aircraft. His duties included pilot scheduler, mission scheduler, deputy chief of wing plans, instructor and evaluator pilot, flight commander and deputy chief of standardization/evaluation. While on this assignment, Macke participated in Operations Provide Promise, Uphold Democracy, Vigilant Warrior, Southern Watch and Joint Guard.

In December 1998, Macke left the active-duty Air Force and joined the Kentucky Air National Guard's 165th Airlift Squadron, flying C-130H Hercules aircraft. As a member of the 123rd Airlift Wing, Macke's duties included instructor and evaluator pilot, unit deployment manager, flight commander, operations support flight commander, deputy commander of the 123rd's Maintenance Group and director of operations for Air at Joint Forces Headquarters, Kentucky. While assigned to the KYANG, he participated in Operations Southern Watch, Joint Forge, Coronet Oak, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

"In 2007 Rob and I deployed together to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom, where I selected him to serve as the commander for the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron," Kraus said. "That was a tough assignment, but he executed it flawlessly, responsibly overseeing 639 combat missions that delivered 6,651 personnel and over 2,000 tons of cargo in the most dangerous place on earth. Not only did he get the mission done, but he brought everybody back safely."

Over the course of his career, Macke amassed 4,198 flying hours, including 183.1 combat hours during 93 combat missions and 65.3 hours from combat-support missions.

"Rob, thank you for your unwavering and dedicated service to our great Air Force and congratulations on closing out a successful and fruitful career," Kraus said at the ceremony's conclusion. "You have left a lasting impression on us and on this organization, and I bid you Godspeed and God bless. Thank you."