Steve Rathka graduated from Goshen High School in 1960 and Ball State Teachers College in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and was exempt from the draft while in college. He got married in September 1964 in Elkhart.
On August 26, 1965 the married exemption ended and only those married with children kept their exemption from the draft, Rathka explained.
Memories of Service:
“In late 1965, my draft number was low, so on January 28, 1966, I enlisted in the Indiana Army National Guard for a six-year commitment,” Rathka stated. For the next six years, Rathka drilled at the Elkhart Armory one weekend a month. In the summer of 1966, he went to Camp Atterbury for two weeks of training.
In April 1967 he was sent to Ft. Campbell, Ky., for basic training and then to Ft. Sill, Okla., for AIT (Advanced Individual Training).
After leaving Ft. Sill in October 1967, he came back to Elkhart and became the company clerk. “My commitment ended January 27, 1972. I was an E-5 at that time. I had three more summer camps at Camp Atterbury and one at Camp Grayling, Mich.,” Rathka said.
Rathka spent his working career as a banker and retired as senior vice president at Valley American Bank in Mishawaka, Ind.
For the last 10 years Rathka has been a member of Mark L Wilt American Legion Post 210 in Middlebury, where he has served as the Post Historian and a member of the Color Guard.
“I am a Vietnam Era Veteran, not a Vietnam Vet. I am proud to have served my country and would have gone where directed, as all veterans would do and have done,” Rathka noted. “Thanks to all the men and women who have served and will serve, especially all that gave the ultimate sacrifice.”