Written by Betsy Abraham Thursday, 09 May 2013 00:00
He’s been to the corners of the world, worked with Jay Leno, and has served in the Middle East. Col. Mark Rado is currently the commander of the U.S. Army Accessions Support Brigade, but back in June 1975, he was just a teenager with a lot of dreams graduating from Carle Place High School.
Rado fondly remembers growing up on Roosevelt Ct., walking to school, playing outside with the neighborhood kids and going to Carvel or Bill’s Candy Store to get a treat.
“It was an idyllic childhood,” Rado says. “It was a comfortable and nurturing suburban upbringing and a great place to grow up.”
Rado was actively involved at Carle Place High School, playing on the football team and starring in several plays.
“I wouldn’t trade my high school years for anything. I had a great high school experience, and that was based upon the faculty and teachers. They were phenomenal educators and great role models. They really gave us the basis of what we needed to be successful,” Rado says.
Rado remembers three teachers in particular — his football coach Joe Coady, drama advisor Peter Pantina, and choral teacher Bill Westtott. Rado says that these teachers provided him valuable life lessons, instilling in him discipline and a strong work ethic.
“It was a very unique blend of teachers. The basis for greatness comes down to the work ethic, disciplines they engrained upon us and the confidence they gave us to be who we were, whether you were an athlete, academic or artist,” Rado says.
After graduation, Rado went to Wilkes College in Pennsylvania where he got a degree in education. He taught at a small Catholic high school in Pennsylvania for a few years before moving back to New York to work as a corporate credit manager with his dad. Rado then changed career paths once again, working at a talent agency where he represented young comedians such as Jay Leno. He enjoyed his different careers, but an unrealized dream lingered.
“Something kept tugging at my sleeve. I grew up in a house that was very patriotic. My dad was a World War 2 and Korean War veteran. As I was getting older, I would remember my dad’s lessons about the Army and his great stories. I was a big John F. Kennedy fan and the words from his inaugural address, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country’ stuck with me,’’’ Rado said.
In 1983, he wandered into a recruiting station in Levittown and in January 1985, 28-year-old Rado enlisted.
“I knew that this was my one chance at the Army. I knew it was something I always wanted to do and I didn’t want to wake up one day and say I wish I had done that. This was my one opportunity to serve my country,” Rado says. “And I’ve never regretted a single moment of it.”
In 1991, while Rado was deployed in Germany, he was sent to Saudi Arabia to support Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. “It was exciting as a young captain to be at the level of involvement to watch history be made,” Rado says.
He then took command of Headquarters Company, USAG, Fort McPherson before being reassigned to U.S. Total Army PERSCOM where he served as a Personnel Distribution Officer and a Division executive officer. In 1997, he was transferred to the U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center as the Secretary to the General Staff. He returned to Fort Knox in 1999 and served as the executive officer, 46th AG Battalion (Reception) until 2001 when he assumed the duties of executive officer to the Commanding General, USAREC. In 2002, Rado moved to Fort Monroe and assisted in the activation of the U.S. Army Accessions Command and served as the Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General. After another two year stint at Fort Knox, he was then assigned as the Chief, Director’s Action Group of the J1 on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon until 2007. In 2008, he deployed to Iraq where he was chief of manpower and personnel for the Multi National Security Transition Command-Iraq, or MNSTC-I, which sought to develop the Iraqi military and police force. In 2009, he was assigned to the Army Staff and served as the Chief of the Officer Division, Directorate of Military Personnel Management, Army G1. Today, Rado is once again stationed at Fort Knox where he is commander of the US Army Accessions Support Brigade.
Rado has won numerous awards and decorations including the Legion of Merit, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, both Kuwait Liberation Medals, the Bronze Star Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.
Looking back at it all, Rado says it was his education and time in Carle Place that set him up for the rest of his life.
“The teachers taught me commitment. Joe Coady taught me attention to detail in executing game plans, my ability to communicate came from Peter Pantina and passion and creativity from Bill Westtott enabled me to do the things I’ve done and be the guy I am today and support soldiers,” Rado says.