The Special Guest and Speaker at the
2019 Basilone Memorial Parade is Richard Natonski
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. Lt. Natonski served as a Platoon Commander with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines participating in the evacuations of citizens from Phnom Penh and Saigon in 1975.

Transferring to the MCRD San Diego in July 1975, Lt. Natonski was assigned as a recruit training Series Commander.

In April 1978, Capt. Natonski was transferred to Marine Barracks 8th & I Washington D.C., where he served as the Commanding Officer of Company B. Following this tour, he attended the Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, Va. In 1982, he was assigned as the Operations Officer for 1st Bn., 5th Mar., at Camp Pendleton.

In 1984, Maj. Natonski transferred to HQMC. 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 1989, he was transferred to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, where he was assigned as the G-3 Plans Officer. In July 1991, Lt. Col. Natonski served 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 Haitian refugee operations in Cuba and Operations Restore Hope and Continue Hope in Somalia.

From 1994 to 1995, he attended the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy. Col. Natonski assumed command of 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in 1995. In 1998, he reported to the Joint Staff where he was assigned duties as the Chief of the Central Command Division, Joint Staff and subsequently the Deputy Director for Operations in the National Military Command Center. Next, BGen. Natonski served first as the Director of Plans than Operations in PP&O.

He was present in the Pentagon on 9/11. In June 2002, BGen. Natonski assumed command of 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. 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 PFC 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 and in August 2008, he assumed command of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command. On Sept. 8, 2010, he retired from the Marine Corps after more than 37 years of service.

Since retiring from the Armed Forces, he has served as a Senior Mentor for the Marine Corps, 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 for Ave Maria School of Law and on the Advisory Board at JINSA.