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Obituary (MD): Robert Kinnaird Caldwell '58

Posted on 04/06/2018

Commander Robert (Bob) Caldwell, USN (Ret.), of Annapolis, MD, passed away on 29 March 2018. He was 81 years old. A native of Walton, KY, Bob attended Dixie Heights High School in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, where he was a football standout. He graciously turned down a "full-ride" football scholarship from Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant to the University of Kentucky to attend the United States Naval Academy. He was in the 18th Company and subsequently served as its Company Commander. Bob played football all four years and attended the first Annapolis Touchdown Club Banquet in 1954. Bob was a proud member of the 1958 Cotton Bowl Championship football team and cherished that time and his teammates his entire life. On graduation Bob was one of only 19 midshipmen from the Class of 58 to receive a letter of commendation citing "their officer-like qualities and positive characters to the development of naval spirit and loyalty within the Brigade." Upon graduation, he remained at the Academy as an assistant football coach under Eddie Erdlatz. He first served on the destroyer INGERSOLL (DD652) as the Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer and then on the MCKEAN (DD784) as the Gunnery Officer. In 1961 he transitioned to the Silent Service, completing Submarine School (New London, CT). He reported to the TRUTTA (SS421) as the Engineering Officer in Key West, FL where he participated in the naval blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He qualified for command in 1964. Subsequently he attended Naval Post-Graduate school in Monterey, CA, receiving a Masters of Science in Management in 1966. Following that tour he served on board the ARGONAUT (SS475) as the Operations Officer in Norfolk, VA, subsequently completing the prospective commanding officer's school in New London, CT. In 1968 he reported to the SEA LEOPARD (SS483) as the Executive Officer. CDR Caldwell's shore tours included, CINCLANT Joint Staff as the General War Communications Plans Officer, Executive Officer of the University of Virginia's NROTC Unit and then Commanding Officer, U.S. Naval Communications Unit, London, England. Upon returning stateside, he became the Head, Tactical Communications Command & Control Development Unit. Bob's final tour was Deputy Director of Athletics/Head, Physical Education Department at the Naval Academy. While there, he was the location representative for the 1984 US Olympic Organizing Committee, World Soccer Venue held at the Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Upon retiring from active duty in 1984, he was a Program Engineer for TRACOR APPLIED SCIENCES and a consultant for the Naval Academy Athletic Association. Bob was the President of Secure Destruction Systems, Inc. from 1986 to 1999, a family owned document shredding service in the Washington Metropolitan area. One way he maintained his connection with the Academy was sponsoring Midshipmen where he was able to enjoy many outstanding young people, who in turn kept him young and active. Bob was an active and boisterous member of the USNA Class of '58, a Naval Academy Foundation Trustee, a member of the Naval Academy Athletic Association, and a USNA Blue and Gold Officer. He was a proud member of the Annapolis Touchdown Club and honored to receive the "Jim & Rae Ann Morgan Distinguished Award" in 2017. He was an active participant in and greatly enjoyed reunions with the shipmates he served with in each command. Bob always remembered where he came from, as stated in the "Lucky Bag" of 1958 he would always be a country boy at heart. He was loyal to his friends and family, and always had a positive view of life, no matter what the circumstances. He greatly enjoyed his High School reunions. Bob was commissioned a Kentucky Colonel by the Commonwealth of Kentucky and an Admiral of the Great Fleet of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Bob was a dedicated life-long Christian and started serving as a Deacon in the Florence Christian Church, KY at 16. He provided lay services for the crew while aboard, and he enjoyed singing at church as an always present member of the choir. For the last 23 years Bob has been an active member of Heritage Baptist Church, Annapolis, MD. He is survived by his high school sweetheart and wife of almost 60 years, the former Rebecca Sue Hesselman of Fort Mitchell, KY; sons, Robert Jr. (Jeanne), David (Kris), and Matthew (Michele); daughter (Susan); eleven grandchildren (Erin, Aileen, Kellyn, Luke, Caroline, Amanda, Jonathon, Katheryn, Bobby, Rebecca, and Christina), many wonderful nieces and nephews, and his brother (Charles). He was predeceased by his parents (James and Thelma), 3 brothers (Ken, Merrill and Bongi Kim), two sisters (Thelma Claire and Adele) and a granddaughter (Mary). The three loves of his life (after Becky) were family, friends and the Naval Academy - all of which gave him great joy throughout his life. A Memorial Service will take place on Friday, April 13, 2018 in the United States Naval Academy Main Chapel at 10:00 am. Inurnment will follow at USNA Columbarium. Reception will be held immediately following at the Naval Academy Officer's Club. (Please enter the Naval Academy thru Gate 8 - Anyone over age 16 needs driver's license or valid picture ID for entry onto Naval Academy Grounds) In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the U. S. Naval Academy Foundation or the Heritage Baptist Church An online guest book is available at "Iron Boats, Steel Men and Diesel Fuel Forever" "58 is Great"

John M. Taylor Funeral Home
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 263-4422

Published in The Capital Gazette on Apr. 8, 2018