Bruce Kittleson — President and Founder
Bruce was born into a military family, officially a lifelong ‘army brat.’ His father was a Command Sergeant Major in Special Forces (Green Beret) and a highly decorated soldier from WWII through Vietnam until retirement in 1978. His father’s military career didn’t require multiple relocations of the family, however, because Special Forces were only home-ported in a few places.
Bruce spent most of his teen years growing up in Bad Toelz, Germany in the Bavarian Alps while his father was with 10th Special Forces Group. His family lived in Germany during the time that the Berlin Wall was constructed, and at that tender age, he never expected his life’s work would take him behind the former Iron Curtain. He graduated from Fayetteville Senior High, North Carolina, in 1968 and committed myself to Christ in February 1971. Bruce was introduced to the Navigators at Fort Bragg shortly afterwards and continued first as a volunteer and then staff for twenty years.
Bruce met wife Judy at a Navigator Bible Study at North Carolina State University in Raleigh in 1971 and they were married May 1974 after Bruce graduated. The Kittlesons then worked for four years professionally in Wilson, NC, Bruce in apparel manufacturing and Judy in highway engineering with the State of North Carolina. They began Bible studies at Atlantic Christian College in Wilson, NC which led the Navigators to eventually ask them to join their staff.
Bruce had expected to go back into collegiate ministry, but the Navigators suggested, instead, that he go into military ministry at Ft Bragg. They thought that he would do well in military ministry because of my military family background. The Kittlesons ministered at Fort Bragg (3 years), Camp LeJeune with Marines (7 years), and then in Norfolk, VA with the Navy. During those years, God gifted them with their children — their sons Lieutenant Scott (now 28, Ft Stewart, Georgia), and Jon (now 26, Iowa), and Emily (now 21, senior at William & Mary College).
In 1992, Bruce made his first trip to Russia six months after the fall of Communism, eventually leading a conference for 550 former political officers called “Religious and Moral Education of the USA and Russian Armies” in March 1993. During the conference, he saw that to keep hearts and minds open to the moving of the spirit, we would need to meet others’ genuine human need, so the families Kittleson, Grube, Cerjan, and Smith formed Olive Branch International to provide humanitarian service in the international military community. Fifteen years later, Olive Branch has sponsored over two hundred educational, medical, and humanitarian service projects in sixteen countries among representatives from over thirty countries.
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