Valued, versatile senior executive retires after distinguished 42-year career

By Ed Lopez, Picatinny Arsenal Public AffairsMarch 4, 2024

Versatile executive David Castellano retires after 42 years
Chris J. Grassano, at left, congratulates David R. Castellano as his wife, Rosa, looks on during a retirement ceremony on Feb. 23 that capped off a distinguished 42-year career. Grassano is director of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Armaments Center, where Castellano served as executive director of two major organizations during his tenure. Castellano was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in December 2003 and served at the Pentagon as a senior technical advisor before his arrival at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. (Photo Credit: Jesse Glass) VIEW ORIGINAL

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- David R. Castellano, a senior U.S. Army executive known for his versatility and visionary foresight, retired after a distinguished career that included leading two major organizations at the U.S. Army’s premier facility for the research and development of armaments and ammunition.

Castellano capped a 42-year career during a retirement ceremony here on Feb. 23 at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Armaments Center, where he most recently served as executive director of the Munitions Engineering and Technology Center.

Castellano was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in December 2003 and served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. During that period, he had technical oversight of every major acquisition program in the Department of Defense, more than 200 programs spread across the various services.

In February 2008, he came to Picatinny as executive director of the Weapons and Software Engineering Center. Later, in September 2016, Castellano became executive director of the Munitions Engineering and Technology Center.

“He’s contributed immensely to our nation’s defense as a senior executive before arriving at Picatinny and afterwards, serving in two different director positions here at the DEVCOM Armaments Center,” said Chris J. Grassano, executive director of the Armaments Center. “Dave’s ability to adapt, his versatility and excellence in various situations and roles, has truly made him a man for all seasons in the context of our mission.

“For those qualities and much more he will be sorely missed,” Grassano added. “Over the years Dave has been known to be a forward-thinking leader, anticipating challenges for the future and laying the groundwork for developing solutions.”

Maj. Gen. John T. Reim, Picatinny Arsenal senior commander and Joint Program Executive Officer for Armaments and Ammunition, praised Castellano for his steadfast dedication to the mission and exemplary performance as a member of the Senior Executive Service.

“Dave’s journey of achievements speak volumes about his work ethic, his patriotism to the nation, and his dedication to Picatinny Arsenal,” Reim said. “Picatinny Arsenal’s credibility and hard-earned status as the DOD’s Center of Excellence for Guns and Ammunition are owed to people like Dave.”

As Castellano prepared to speak, with the full weight of the occasion sinking in, along with the wave of praise and multitude of achievements cited beforehand, the words emerged slowly at first.

“I’m truly overwhelmed,” said Castellano. “It’s hard to believe this day has finally come.”

“I have to mention, my family now has an inkling of what I’ve been doing all these years,” he added, sparking a ripple of light laughter through the audience.

“I’m blessed to have the love of my life here to share this day with me,” Castellano said of his wife. “Rosa, thank you for all the wonderful years and good times we’ve spent together, and for your love and support as I close out this final chapter and transition to my next.”

Castellano went on to acknowledge other relatives in attendance and the valued support he has received from them over the years. The retiring executive director also mentioned the various people throughout his career who provided support, guidance, wisdom, and lasting friendships.

“Growing up I was influenced by my father’s love for this country,” Castellano said. “He worked several years at the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. He would often tell stories about the many brave cadets he knew who went to war and got emotional talking about those who didn’t come back. He was very proud of my brother and I when we both got jobs working at Picatinny Arsenal. In fact, between my brother and I, we dedicated a sum total of 84 years of service to our country.”

Castellano noted that many influences and collective efforts play a key role in shaping our contributions. “What most of us achieve is the sum product of the team’s contributions,” he said. “I have been fortunate throughout my career to have been surrounded by extremely capable and dedicated teammates who together tackled the many challenges that faced us.

“Without courage, innovation and perseverance we would not be able to provide the necessary tools and equipment that our warfighters need to maintain their decisive edge over our adversaries,” Castellano said in closing.

“I take great pride in having spent 42 years of my career serving the warfighter, albeit in various civilian roles, and I am grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me.”