Friday, May 10, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Calvin Waller, Gulf War General, Dies -- Served As Commanding General At Fort Lewis


WASHINGTON - Retired Army Lt. Gen. Calvin A.H. Waller, deputy commander of U.S. forces during Operation Desert Storm and twice commanding general of Fort Lewis, died yesterday. He was 58.

Lt. Gen. Waller, who retired in 1991 after 32 years in the Army, died of a heart attack while on a trip to Washington, D.C., with his wife, Marion, said his employer, Kaiser-Hill, a Colorado environmental contractor.

He was one of the Army's highest-ranking African Americans when he retired.

As deputy to Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, the top U.S. commander in the Gulf War, Lt. Gen. Waller was directly in charge of the main U.S. forces in the January 1991 offensive against Iraq.

He stirred controversy before the war by arguing that U.S. troops were not ready to fight by the United Nations' deadline for Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait.

At the time, the statement appeared to undercut President Bush's strategy of steadily increasing pressure on Iraq. Allied forces began bombing Iraq and Kuwait shortly after the Jan. 15, 1991, deadline. Iraq was defeated in several weeks.

In 1992, Lt. Gen. Waller was one of a dozen retired military leaders who endorsed Bill Clinton in his campaign against Bush.

Upon retiring from the military, Lt. Gen. Waller moved to Denver and served from 1991 to 1992 as president and chief executive officer of RKK Ltd., an environmental technology company. In July 1995, he became Kaiser-Hill's vice president for site operations and integration at Rocky Flats.

He was born Dec. 17, 1937, in Baton Rouge, La., and graduated from Prairie View A&M University in 1959. He received a master's degree in public administration from Shippensburg State College in Pennsylvania in 1978.

His initial assignments at Fort Lewis, near Tacoma, Wash., were in company-grade positions in the 4th Infantry Division.

Three times after that in his career, he returned to Fort Lewis: from July 1986 to July 1987 as deputy commanding general of I Corps and Fort Lewis, and twice as the post's commanding general, from August 1989 to November 1990 and from March to November 1991.

"Lt. Gen. Cal Waller was one of those `what-you-see-is-what-you-get' individuals," said Lt. Gen. C.G. Marsh, the current commanding officer of I Corps and Fort Lewis.

"America has lost a great American and a great soldier," Marsh said. "He contributed professionalism and competence with a natural warmth and infectious enthusiasm that inspired everyone he met."

When Lt. Gen. Waller retired, he said it didn't worry him that his wishes as a civilian executive or business owner might not be followed as scrupulously as a general's.

"I have seen so many commanding officers who have been miserable failures because they think or thought they could just issue an order and it would be done," he said.

Lt. Gen. Waller received numerous awards and decorations, including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, two Army Distinguished Service Medals and the Defense Superior Service Medal, or Bronze Star.

He is survived by his wife, Marion, and sons Mark, of New York, and Michael, of Colorado Springs, Colo. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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