Navy Officer Found Dead in Qatar Was Pilot Nearing Retirement

A Navy officer found dead at an air base in Qatar was a longtime pilot and reservist nearing retirement, his father said.

Cmdr. Christopher E. Kalafut, 49, of Acworth, Ga., was found dead in his room on Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar on Oct. 24, according to his father, Steve Kalafut. His death is under military investigation, as is standard with on-base deaths.

Kalafut deployed in July and worked at the combined air operations center at the base, a major air hub in the Middle East. He was assigned to the Naval Amphibious Liaison Element, Combined Forces Air Component Center, U.S. Central Command.

Kalafut graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy in 1987 and entered active duty as an E-2C Hawkeye pilot, his father said. He did a cruise aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln and spent six years in the service before leaving and entering the reserves.

He later moved to the Atlanta area, where he worked as a pilot for Delta, his father said. Kalafut was recalled to active duty once before to fly counternarcotics missions out of Atlanta. He flew with the reserves less often in recent years, Steve Kalafut said. The July deployment, a non-flying position, was seen as a final step before retirement. 

Kalafut leaves behind his wife, Mary, and five children ranging in age from 12 to 21. Steve Kalafut said his son enjoyed his time with the Navy.

"He absolutely enjoyed the flying," he said.

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