CHIEVRES AIR BASE, Belgium – In U.S. Army Ranger School in 1974 as an Army cadet, one of the first things he was taught was Rangers never get lost while on patrol and they never leave a fallen Soldier.
Throughout his more than 45 years of service, Dave Kalita never got lost and never left a fallen Soldier. In fact, he dedicated his entire life and career to ensuring others never got lost or left behind, taking care of tens of thousands of Soldiers and their Families while he patrolled his way through more than four and a half decades of dedicated and faithful service to the Army.
As the director of the 405th Army Field Support Brigade’s Logistics Readiness Center-Benelux, Kalita and his staff of almost 100 employees help to ensure the people stationed at the numerous U.S. Army Garrison Benelux installations – primarily in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany – receive first class service and support.
His primary duty as LRC director is to manage installation supply, maintenance and transportation, central issue facilities, installation property books, central receiving points, personal property and household goods, passenger travel, non-tactical vehicle support, bus shuttle service, and garrison equipment.
After all these years – as he completes his final preparations for retirement – Kalita, who was commissioned as a regular Army officer in the Signal Corps after graduating college in 1975, said the one thing he will miss the most are the people.
“My workforce is just fabulous – wonderful people. They surprise me each and every day and do great work,” said the mid-west native and Soldier for Life. “The people make the job what it is, and that’s enjoyable. I sincerely appreciate their hard work.”
When talking with one of his Belgium local national employees recently, Kalita said he was struck by his pride and his family’s pride.
“His pride working for the U.S. Army and his family mentioning it – they are so proud of him – it kind of astounded me,” he said. “I’m really going to miss the people.”
The LRC – even though the main functional areas are supply and services, maintenance and transportation – is really one big family providing vital and unique support to the service members and their families in the Benelux, said Kalita, who served as an officer for 23 years, active and Reserve, before retiring as a major.
After taking off his Army uniform for the last time, the Soldier for Life served another 33.5 years as an Army civilian employee, culminating with his position as a GS-14 director at one of the 405th AFSB’s seven LRCs.
Upon retirement, the father of two and grandfather of two more is looking forward to spending more time with his family. He said he and his wife, Gloria, who has three children and two grandchildren of her own, plan to do a lot of traveling to see their families.
“We’ll take lots of tips to Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota and Alaska to visit our children and grandchildren,” said Kalita, who is planning to settle in Georgetown, Texas.
“My granddaughter graduates from high school at the end of May. I was supposed to be here until the end of August, but I took a drop so I could go back and see her graduate,” he said.
Besides traveling and attending his granddaughter’s graduation, Kalita said he wants to ride his Harley Davidson motorcycle more, rejoin a Kiwanis Club, volunteer at a local food bank, and spend more time hunting and reading.
“I set up one of the extra bedrooms as a library so I’m going to catch up on a lot of reading of a lot of books that I haven’t had the opportunity to read,” said Kalita.
But mostly, he’s going to spend more time with Gloria. He lost his first wife, Connie, to cancer in 2001 after 26 years of marriage. He’ll celebrate 12 years of marriage to Gloria on July 4th with lots of fireworks, he said.
“Gloria has been glorious and been a glory in my life, and I can’t thank her enough for her support. She’s made me complete again,” said Kalita.
(Editor’s note: Dave Kalita will be honored at his official retirement ceremony, scheduled for April 8 starting at 11:30 a.m., at the Chievres Air Base Headquarters Building. The ceremony will also be broadcast virtually for those not in attendance.)