Mark Atkinson didn't know when he graduated from North Syracuse High School in 1974 that his career path would take him into a life of public service across the globe and right back to the community where he grew up, but that's how it worked out.
On March 4, North Syracuse Central School District honored North Syracuse's deputy mayor by adding him to its Wall of Distinction. His daughters, Dana and Lauren, had nominated him.
"It's a great honor to be recognized with a lot of people from within my community that have done good things for the community," Atkinson said.
Atkinson served in both in the Gulf War and in Operation Iraqi Freedom during his 34-year career in the US Air Force. In the Gulf War he worked as a flight lines weapons supervisor, and during Operation Iraqi Freedom he served as operations superintendent for Valad Air Base in Iraq. But most of his career found him with the 174th fighter wing from Syracuse. He retired as a chief master sergeant.
He attributes his work as a volunteer, both at an early age and throughout his military career, with leading him towards politics.
"I just always felt good about volunteering," he said. "Through volunteering I got involved with North Syracuse village politics. I volunteered to work on some committees in the village of North Syracuse. I met the people that are involved in North Syracuse public office and they asked me to run for office eight years ago. "
He has won both times he ran for office. He ran once for a trustee position on the village board and then gained the deputy mayor position last year.
Atkinson said that his time in the military turned out to be great preparation for his work in politics.
"The military is very mission oriented," he said. "Even in politics, once we have a desired goal, I can work towards achieving that goal, which is pretty much what we do in the military."