By Michael M. Novogradac, U.S. Army Operational Test Command Public Affairs
WEST FORT HOOD, Texas — A Central Texas man who tested Army equipment for four decades was honored here as the newest inductee into the Operational Testers’ Hall of Fame.
Dr. Richard A. Kass of Bastrop, Texas, became the 42nd member of the U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Hall of Fame.
A native of Orleans, Nebraska, he began his service to the Nation in 1970 as a Marine who attended the Navy SCUBA School, and also is an Army Ranger graduate.
“Coming back here — I’m sorry I ever retired,” he said with a reminiscent gasp. “The honor is really great. Thinking about the memories and all the people — I wish I was still doing it.”
Kass served a distinguished 26-year civil service career from 1980 to 2006, followed by his position as a contractor with Geeks and Nerds (GaN) Corporation, continuing to support OTC at Fort Hood.
He retired from full-time employment in 2014.
He recalls his career of government service starting after receiving his Ph.D. in Psychology from Southern Illinois University during August 1980.
“It was really in the research end of psychology,” he said. “So I took a lot on — experimental designs, analysis — took a lot of analytical programs — and so that’s what I used to become an ORSA (Operational Research and Systems Analyst) in the Army.”
His first job was working for the Army Research Institute in the District of Columbia area where he said he spent one year before arriving at OTC in 1982.
“I was here for just three years, when they sent me for nine months – full salary – to go to the Army Command and General Staff College up in Leavenworth,” he continued.
“It was a pilot program that was for military officers. But then, as a Civilian, working for Joint Forces Command in the Virginia area, they also sent me to the National War College for a year,” he explained.
“So, I have really been fortunate in my career – getting a good education — getting to do the things I have done. It is just amazing.”
During the ceremony, OTC Commander Col. David W. Gardner praised Kass as someone whose devotion to duty and commitment to service were integral in the success of OTC’s support to Army modernization for over 50 years.
“Our 42nd Hall of Fame inductee, Dr. Richard Kass, shares the devotion, commitment, and dedication to that mission of his predecessors,” said Gardner.
“Over his long career, he constantly pushed himself and the diverse teams he led to improve, learn new skills and adopt new methods to find innovative — but cost-effective — solutions to meet ever-changing test and evaluation requirements,” he continued.
“And he shared those insights and experience in his book and dozens of articles on testing, experimentation, measurement, and methodology to benefit those who followed.”
At his turn to speak, Kass opened a small page of notes and put on his reading glasses.
He thanked his wife Cheryl of 46 years, for sticking through all the travel absences and household moves, and then thanked in attendance those former coworkers of many years gone by.
Next, he told some brief stories going back 38 years.
One memory was of colonel who was his boss during an early evaluation that was not going well.
He said the test ended on a Friday and the data reduction, analysis and briefing charts had to be completed Saturday to travel Sunday to brief high-level Army leaders on Monday.
While all the testers were busy compiling data, the colonel asked how everything was going.
“I told him, ‘Not well,’” said Kass. “I thought he was going to fire me on-the-spot. I truly did.”
But then the colonel did something unexpected.
“He asked me, ‘How can I help?’ Kass explained.
“I remember staring at him for a few moments and with some hesitation, I asked him to go through a large stack of computer printouts and tabulate the results by hand in order to make briefing charts,” Kass continued.
“In those days, yeah, we were not quite so automated,” he said to laughter.
“He did that for the next six hours and somehow, we were able to complete all of the analysis and the briefing charts very late that Saturday night. That was test and evaluation in the fast lane,” which was met with extra laughter.
“So here it is, some 30-plus years later. I still remember that Saturday,” Kass said.
“I can still remember that colonel. Because of him and other leaders I’ve had like him, I am standing here today.”
He concluded saying he would suggest to everyone — no matter their jobs — in a busy and intense work schedule — to simply think about their journey.
“Take a few moments now and then to think about what you are doing,” he said.
“The people you work with, the individuals you work for — you may be surprised. Ten, 20 years from today, of the great memories you will have from your own journey through Army operational testing.
“Thank you for this honor, and thank you for all the great memories.”
The Hall of Fame, which inducted its first class in October 1994, has served to honor Soldiers and Civilians for their commitment to putting the best possible equipment and systems into the hands of Soldiers in both training and combat conditions.