8/9/2013 -- CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – There comes a time in a Marine’s career when one must pass on the torch to the next generation. For some, that time may come after their first enlistment, others hand off their legacy after decades.
It has been many years since Gunnery Sgt. Kalan G. Chaloupek stood on those yellow footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in July 1993. He now stands in front of his peers during his retirement ceremony aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., August 7, 2013.
There have been many long and arduous days in those 20 years but many memories to accompany them. Today, as he retires, he says goodbye to the many Marines and sailors he worked with at Combat Logistics Battalion 5, 1st Marine Logistics Group, since March, 2011.
“Gunnery Sgt. Chaloupek had 20 years of honorable service,” said Lt. Col. Brian W. Ecarius, commanding officer, CLB-5. “For a lot of the Marines out here, that sounds like a long ways off. But with (him) looking back, I’m sure it’s a flash.”
Chaloupek enlisted as a Motor Transportation Operator where he served at Okinawa, Japan. Since that time, he has been stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Calif., Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Marine Corps Recruiting Station Kansas City, Mo. and Camp Pendleton, Calif. He has served two tours in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 and one tour in Afghanistan in 2012.
All together he has culminated years of experience and advice for his junior Marines.
“One of things that you need to do no matter what is have professional goals,” said Chaloupek. “You have to take care of yourself and look towards your career at the same time. I know it’s hard to do, but you just got to do it. Whether you want to get faster, stronger, or just get a degree, you have to make sure you do those things.”
Working as the Motor Transport Operations Chief he deployed with CLB-5 to Afghanistan from April to August 2012. He became close with the Marines and sailors he worked with and left a great impression on the leadership.
“When you look at key billets in a combat situation that are critical, (Motor Transport Operations Chief) is a huge billet that is key to our success at a Combat Logistics Battalion,” said Ecarius. “I’ll tell you, the Gunny has been a huge asset. He’s been one of our primary subject matter experts in the motor transportation field. This is a huge day for him and us.”
During his ceremony, he addressed the Marines and sailors and gave them advice from his 20 years of experience in the Marine Corps.
“The Marine Corps can take you and develop you into that person that you need to be successful in life,” said Chaloupek. “Whether you go back to school or work for a corporation. You become that person that is used to dealing with people of different backgrounds. You become that person that isn’t afraid to get up in the morning and go to work, doesn’t make excuses. That’s why people like Marines. You need to remember that, whether you do 20 years or four years and get out.”
At the ceremony, a shadow box was presented to Chaloupek from the staff non-commissioned officers of CLB-5. Inside, the traditional Marine dress blues are displayed with Chaloupek’s rank and awards. Also presented was the flag of the United States of America, which flown over Assault Amphibious School Battalion and represents what Chaloupek has defended and guarded throughout his career.
Although Chaloupek will always remain a Marine, he will leave active duty and many of the brave men and women he has worked with over the years.
“Some of the things I thought about before getting out was what I’m going to miss, who I’m going to miss,” said Chaloupek. “I’m going to miss a lot. The Marine Corps has been there for my whole entire life. Am I going to miss the gyms? Yeah. Am I going to miss the beaches? Yeah. What I’m probably going to miss the most is the relationships I built over the years. When I think back about it and look at their faces, it is an awesome experience to think about the things that you go through.”