NO. 17376 • 16 June 1928 – 1 October 1952
Killed in Action October 1, 1952 in Korea, aged 24 Years.
LIEUTENANT THOMAS FRANCIS CASSERLY, III, was born June 16, 1928, in Englewood, New Jersey, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Casserly, Jr.
Tom entered the United States Military Academy In 1946 with many future friends and classmates. His ability to project his sincere understanding to others was felt even in Beast Barracks, where we first had the honor of knowing him. Through four years of diligent work and training, Tom not only bettered himself but also helped to better others. On many occasions he offered his time and assistance to classmates who were having difficulty in various subjects. He wore academic honor stars during his plebe year, but because he was helping so many other cadets, his own standing fell slightly the last three years. He often told us that honor and achievement did not always have to be visible; what mattered most was what one's heart and soul felt. This was Tom, a true, loyal and sincere friend to all, and loved by all. 0n graduation, Tom took a commision in the Air Force and in his training he again excelled.
On August 9, 1951, he married Elizabeth Fissell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. H. Fissell of Montclair, New Jersey, at Our Lady of Sorrows in South Orange, New Jersey. By January 1952, Tom was off to Korea where he fought his last and greatest battle. The following are extracts from two letters written to Libby after Tom’s death - we know a man by what his friends say:
From a classmate: "There was something magnetic about Tom; I've known many people better than I knew him, but never have I formed such an admiration or affection on actually, a casual acquaintance. He had ability plus - I knew that from the Point. Yet he was so friendly and well-adjusted that to talk to him was pleasant as well as stimulating. I don't think I've ever known a man with more self-respect that came from within. He didn't talk about his ideals, but from his way of living and working they were apparent. On the other hand, his confidence was as far from egotism as black is from white; his conscientiousness was not the eager type by any means. He didn't butter up the right people to get ahead. He just did a better job than anyone and let the record stand quietly".
From his Squadron Commander: "His sheer capacity for work and thoroughness in performance of duty were far beyond that ordinarily found in an officer of his experience. . . I feel that you should know that prior to his accident, he was recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Silver Star, the latter for uncommon bravery in action against the enemy while attempting the rescue of another downed pilot. It is the consensus of all of us who have served with Tom that he represented the highest ideals of the service he so genuinely loved".
Tom was killed on October 1, 1952 in Korea, as the result of a plane crash while returning from a combat training mission. He had been indoctrinating a new officer in the type of formation being flown in Korea when his ship developed a mechanical failure.
Tom was a true Christian, whose sole ambition in life was to help others. Towards this end he dedicated his short but full life.
Tom has a daughter Susan, born on June 29, 1952 whom he never saw, and it is she to whom we would like to dedicate this article. Like your father, Susan, may you always be able to place your ideals ahead of personal achievement and consider your greatest reward personal satisfaction from helping others.
- Five Company Classmates