Affton officer takes command of Festus National Guard unit

Bill Phelan

FESTUS, Mo. - A St. Louis native and 11-year veteran of the Missouri National Guard is the new commanding officer of the Festus-based 220th Engineer Company.

Capt. Michael G. Paluczak assumed command of the unit in a Sept. 8 ceremony, replacing outgoing commander, Capt. Bradley S. Willis, who had fulfilled his two-year command commitment.

Paluczak, 30, is a 2000 graduate of DeSmet High School and has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Truman State University. He initially joined the National Guard to take advantage of the tuition assistance program and served as an enlisted soldier with the 128th Field Artillery Battalion. Prior to taking command of the 220th, Paluczak served as platoon leader for the 1438th Engineer Company, a bridge-building unit headquartered in Macon.

Asked why he chose to stay in the military, Paluczak said the National Guard provides, "a high level of job satisfaction."

"One of the main reasons I chose to stay in the Guard is service to the community," Paluczak said. "State emergency duty allows me to give back to my community; checking on citizen safety and clearing roads. It also allows me to help people outside of my community. I've helped with hurricane relief in Louisiana and was deployed for a humanitarian mission in Honduras."

Paluczak also points to the fact that his twin brother, John, also served in Guard as an officer with the 1140th Engineer Battalion.

Now looking forward to serving closer to home, Paluczak is relishing the challenge of command.

"This will be the closet to home that I've ever drilled," he said. "Being so close will give me an advantage as commander if an issue ever arises that needs my attention. It's an awesome responsibility and I'm looking forward to getting more involved with the soldiers. One of my goals is to step up the pace of training."

Capt. Paluczak and his wife, Kelly, are the proud parents of a four-month-old son, Andrew. The couple resides in Affton.

Paluczak is the son of Greg and Janet Paluczak, of Crestwood.

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