Major Palka is a native of Tarrytown, New York. He holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Kent State University (2006), and a Masters in Business Administration M.B.A. from Webster University (2014). He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in May 2006 (PLC).
Upon completion of The Basic School and Field Artillery Officer Basic Course, Lieutenant Palka was assigned to 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California where he served as a Fire Direction Officer, Platoon Commander, and Battery Executive Officer with 5th Battalion, 11th Marines (5/11). While with 5/11, he deployed with Battery S to Al Anbar Province, Iraq in 2008 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and with Battery T to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was promoted to the rank of Captain in July 2010 and subsequently reported to the Marine Artillery Detachment (MARDET) Fort Sill, Oklahoma. While assigned to the MARDET Fort Sill, he served as a Gunnery Instructor with the Officer Instruction Branch for the Artillery Basic Officer Leadership Course and the United States Army Captains Career Course. He also served as the Officer-in-Charge of the Marine Corps Fires Branch for Enlisted Gunnery Instruction and Command and Control Systems.
Captain Palka reported to the Expeditionary Warfare School in June of 2013 and graduated with distinction in May of 2014. Assigned to 2d Battalion, 10th Marines (2/10), 2d Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in June 2014, he served as the Battalion Assistant Operations Officer and Battalion Fire Direction Officer. In November of 2014 he assumed command of Battery E, 2/10. In October of 2015, Battery E deployed in support of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit with Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion, 6th Marines to the Mediterranean Sea, Persian Gulf, and North Arabian Sea, and executed combat operations in northern Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Promoted to the rank of Major in July 2016, he was assigned to 5th Battalion, 14th Marines (5/14), 4th Marine Division, Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, California and fulfilled duties as the Inspector-Instructor for Battery O until January 2017. In May of 2017 he graduated from the Marine Corps Command and Staff College’s Distance Education Program. He is currently serving as the Assistant Battalion Inspector-Instructor.
Major Palka’s personal awards include the Bronze Star Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device “V,” the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Gold Star in lieu of second award, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and the Combat Action Ribbon with Gold Star in lieu of second award. He is the recipient of the 2016 Lieutenant Colonel William G. Leftwich Trophy for Outstanding Leadership.