Calvin A. H. Waller – Lieutenant General, United States Army

From a contemporary news report



Combat Infantryman's Badge

“On a cold Thanksgiving two decades ago, soldiers guarding Fort Carson were given turkey sandwiches by their battalion commander, then-Lieutenant Colonel Calvin Waller. “He went around in a jeep to each of his soldiers and he gave each of them a sandwich (he and his wife made them) and sat down and spent a few minutes with each of them,” said retired Colonel Bill Smullen, who served with Waller. “That's the kind of quality leader Cal Waller was.”

“Calvin A. H. Waller, who went on to become a three-star Army General, died on May 9, 1996 of a heart attack in Washington, D.C. He was 58.

“Waller, Deputy Commander-in-Chief during Operation Desert Storm, was a senior vice president with Kaiser-Hill, the firm that managed the clean-up of Rocky Flats. He took the job after retiring from the Army. “All of those who knew him knew that we was an incredible patriot, a great troop leader, somebody who was dedicated to this country,” said retired General Colin Powell, a longtime personal friend. Powell said the kindness that Waller showed at Fort Carson “was carried into his personal life.”

Waller was born December 17, 1937 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He graduated from Prairie A&M University in Texas in 1959. He spent 32 years in the Army and saw combat in Vietnam. He was at Fort Carson from 1976 to 1978, but considered Colorado his home. He moved to Denver in 1991. He joined Kaiser-Hill last July. When a school program about Rocky Flat was cancelled recently because of high winds, Waller invited several children into his office and entertained them with his model tank collection, co-workers recall. “He was the toughest soft guy you'd ever meet – or the softest tough guy,” said Kaiser-Hill vice president John Hill. Funeral arrangement were pending, but he will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.”

Statement by the President on the Death of Calvin A.H. Waller
May 10, 1996

We mourn the passing of Lieutenant General Calvin A.H. Waller, U. S. Army (Retired), whose dedicated and exceptional career is admired by everyone who knew of his extraordinary courage, inspiring leadership,  and selfless service. During a distinguished career which culminated in his service as Deputy Commander of U.S. Forces in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, General Waller achieved prominence as a skillful and disciplined professional and a caring, enthusiastic commander. His rise from humble beginnings to one of the highest-ranking African-American officers in the U.S. military through stalwart  determination and a record of excellence served as an inspiration to minority and non-minority officers. To General Waller's wife, Marion, his family and friends and to the Army community, I extend my deepest sympathy. He will be remembered as one of America's finest soldiers and most capable military leaders.

Retired Lieutenant General Calvin A.H. Waller, who died May 9 at age 58, was buried Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery after a mass at the Fort Myer Memorial Chapel.

His last duty assignment was as commanding general, I Corps and Fort Lewis, Wash., before he retired on November 30, 1991.Before that he was the deputy commander in chief for operations with U.S. Central Command (Forward) during Desert Storm.

Waller's career in the Army spanned 32 years. He held a variety of staff and command positions which included: Chief of Staff, 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) Fort Stewart, Georgia; Commanding General, 8th Infantry Division (Mechanized), V Corps, U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army.

“His rise from humble beginnings to one of the highest-ranking African-American officers in the U.S. military through stalwart determination and a record of excellence served as an inspiration to minority and non-minority officers,” President Bill Clinton said on learning of his death. He cited Waller's reputation “as a skillful and disciplined professional and a caring, enthusiastic commander.”

Among his awards and decorations are the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Distinguished Service Medal (two awards), the Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star (with Oak Leaf Cluster), the Meritorious Service Medal (with three Oak Leaf Clusters), the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, Combat Infantryman's Badge, and the Master Parachutist Badge.

Waller's civic awards include the Martin Luther King Jr. “Buffalo Soldier” Award from the Congress of Racial Equality, the Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award from the NAACP, the French Legion of Honor Award from the Government of France and the “Star of Texas” award from the state of Texas.

When Waller retired, he moved to Denver and served as president and chief executive officer of an environmental technology company, RKK, Ltd. He then became the senior vice president for the Department of Energy Programs for the ICF Kaiser Environmental and Energy Group. In July of 1995, Waller became the Kaiser-Hill vice president for site operations and integration at Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site.

Waller is survived by his wife of 37 years, Marion Waller of Golden, Colo., and sons Michael of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Mark of New York. His mother, still lives in Baton Rouge, La., and a sister lives in Chicago.

Secretary of the Army Togo D. West Jr. said Waller got “the very best effort” from his soldiers because he cared deeply for them “and they knew it.” “He has,” West said, “in his devotion to family and country, truly been a model for all Americans.”




Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment