Infantry commandant Col. Robert Choppa retires at Fort Benning

Hours after a ceremony ended Friday at Fort Benning, officials announced the retirement of Col. Robert Choppa, the Infantry School commandant and former chief of staff at the post.

Choppa ended more than 30 years of service as the nation observed the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France.

“It is fitting that on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, a day that we celebrate the courage, determination and selfless service of American soldiers as they fought to liberate Europe and save the world from Nazi fascism, that we celebrate the courage and determination of a great officer,” said Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster, commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence. “Across his 30 years of distinguished service, Rob Choppa, led his soldiers from the front in combat, overcame every obstacle that he and his soldiers encountered and demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to his fellow soldiers.”

Choppa assumed command of the Infantry School on Nov. 15, 2013. He filled the position left vacant by the departure of Brig. Gen. David B. Haight who was reassigned to Afghanistan.

McMaster said Choppa’s legacy will live on in every soldier and family who he influenced through his positive leadership and professionalism.

Choppa is a graduate of Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., where he earned a bachelor of science degree in management. He enlisted in the Army with his twin brother in December 1983 and commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry after graduation from Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning in June 1984.

He has been deployed not only to Iraq and Afghanistan but also to Canada, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Artic.

Some of his awards and decorations include the Ranger Tab, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, the Bronze Star Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart, Master Parachutist Badge, Pathfinder Badge and others.

His military education includes a degree in Joint Campaign Planning from the National Defense University and he completed the National Military Strategy Fellowship from Maxwell School of Government, Syracuse University.

Choppa and his wife, a Columbus native, will remain in the Columbus area.