By Airman Joshua Horton, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 20, 2013
KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Brig. Gen. Mark R. Kraus, a Kentucky Air Guardsman who serves as Air National Guard assistant to the commander of U.S. Air Forces Central, was promoted to the rank of major general during a ceremony held here Sunday.
Kraus' new rank insignia were pinned on by his wife, Leslie, and Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky's adjutant General, before an audience of more than 200 family, friends and coworkers.
Tonini, who praised Kraus for his dedication to excellence during a career spanning more than 39 years, then presented the new major general with a flag depicting two stars on a field of Air Force blue.
"Unbridled service is that standard by which we define the Kentucky National Guard," Tonini told the audience. "In my opinion, Mark exemplifies that slogan. This is an absolutely great, great day for Kentucky and a great day for the Kraus family.
"Mark is someone who has 'been there and done that.' His illustrious career has taken him through the Middle East, Southwest Asia, Europe, North Africa, Antarctica, Central America, South America, and he even spent some time conducting operations along the U.S.-Mexican border.
"What happens here today bodes well for the future of the Kentucky National Guard, for the Kentucky Air National Guard, for all of our men and women who wear the uniform, and for the citizens of this great nation."
Kraus was further recognized during the ceremony with the award of The Legion of Merit, first oak leaf cluster, for his numerous accomplishments as Kentucky's assistant adjutant general for Air, a post he held from October 2008 to May 2013.
His "exemplary leadership resulted in Headquarters, Kentucky Air National Guard, earning two Air Force Organizational Excellence Awards and the 123rd Airlift Wing earning three Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards," according to the award citation.
Kraus also stood up multiple critical mission sets, including the 223rd Intelligence Flight as a stand-alone mission under the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency, providing sensitive mission support information to Air Force and key national intelligence user agencies, the citation said.
He was instrumental, too, in the development of the mission doctrine and organization for Kentucky's 123rd Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package, which delivered an outstanding performance during an initial certification exercise that resulted in multiple best-practices now in use nationwide.
Kraus used the occasion to thank his family and the Airmen of the 123rd Airlift Wing, with whom he served as commander from November 2004 to October 2008.
"I'm truly honored that of all the things that you could have been doing today, you chose to be here instead to celebrate this milestone in my career," Kraus said. "When I joined this organization with two stripes on my sleeve, it never occurred to me that I'd be here this long and that I would turn those two stripes into two stars. I am truly a blessed man.
"I am the ninth Airman in the history of this organization, from its beginning in 1947, to be allowed the opportunity to wear the rank of major general," Kraus continued. "That alone is humbling enough, but all the more so when I think and consider the thousands of others who have come before me and the limitless talents of those that I have served with over the years."
Kraus also thanked his wife for her "unfailing support" through the years, saying she was instrumental to his success.
"I don't know where I would be today (without her support)," Kraus said, "but I know this: I wouldn't be here doing this if it weren't for her."
In his current role, Kraus serves as advisor to the commander, United States Air Forces Central, on Air National Guard program matters. He is responsible for assisting in the development of contingency plans and the conduct of air operations in a 20-nation area of responsibility covering Central and Southwest Asia.
Kraus maintains frequent and regular liaison with the commander, vice commander and staff at Ninth Air Force/United States Air Forces Central Headquarters, focusing on matters relating to the Air National Guard. He monitors operational readiness and the safety record of Air National Guard units and informs the commander and staff on actions to be taken to improve readiness.
Kraus has served as an RF-4C weapon systems officer and C-130 navigator, and has held a variety of leadership positions including command at the squadron, group and wing level. His military career includes six years of enlisted service prior to his commissioning as an officer through the Air National Guard Academy of Military Science in 1979.
While deployed for Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, he served with United States Central Command as commander of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing and deputy commander of the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group.
Kraus also has served as the Intelligence Directorate assistant to the director of the Air National Guard and the Air National Guard assistant to the commander of the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency.
"In closing I would like to say again how proud, yet humble, I am to have the opportunity to further represent the Kentucky Air National Guard," Kraus said. "I'm honored that you have joined me for today's ceremony, and I thank you very much."