Saturday, June 26, 2010

Marine Sgt. Joseph D. Caskey

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Sgt. Joseph D. Caskey, 24, of Pittsburgh, Pa.

Sgt. Caskey was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died June 26, 2010 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

West View Marine dies in Afghanistan

Joe Caskey followed his grandfather, father, mother and two older brothers into the military after graduating from North Hills High School in 2004.

"That's all we ever knew," said his brother, Jeremy Caskey, 32. "We always loved our country. It was a natural thing. It was almost the family business."

Marine Corps Sgt. Joseph Caskey, 24, of West View was killed Saturday when an improvised explosive device struck the vehicle in which he was riding in Afghanistan, his family said. It was his second tour of duty overseas.

"For him, there was never any other choice," Jeremy Caskey said. "It was a singular passion for him to be a Marine."

He is the third local serviceman to die in action this month. Bryan Hoover, 29, and Robert Fike, 38, both with the Pennsylvania National Guard's Company C, 1st Battalion, 110th Infantry, based in Connellsville, died June 11 in Afghanistan.

Twenty servicemen from Pennsylvania were killed in action since last June, according to the Department of Defense.

Joe Caskey's body was transferred to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, according to the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operation Center. Jeremy Caskey said the family had not yet made funeral arrangements.

Joe Caskey was born in Germany when his father, Gerald Caskey, was stationed there, and he spent some of his elementary school years in Hawaii, said his mother, Debra Caskey.

"He just loved it there," said Debra Caskey, 54, who was an Army photographer. "He was always the athletic, outdoorsy type, and there you're outdoors all the time."

Debra Caskey's sons deployed overseas five times. Jeremy Caskey was in Iraq with the Air Force, and Joshua Caskey, the middle brother, was in Iraq twice with the Marines. Joe Caskey went to Iraq and then Afghanistan.

Joe Caskey enlisted in 2004 and re-enlisted in 2008. As a sergeant, he probably could have stayed closer to the base in Afghanistan, but that's not what he wanted, his brother said.

"He wanted to be in the thick of it," Jeremy Caskey said. "He took a position out there to fight. He wanted to be with his men, and he wanted to make a difference. He wanted to be there to lead his guys."

A Pittsburgh TV station quoted his father as saying his son had spoken of not making it home.

"He told us if he didn't make it back ---- he knew that possibility was real ---- to make sure we give him a really nice military funeral," the station quoted Jerry Caskey as saying. "He calculated the risk."

The father also said his son had the option of what he termed a safer assignment, but turned it down to stay with the troops he had trained with for a year.

The family moved around the world, but Pittsburgh was always the home base, Jeremy Caskey said. When Gerald Caskey retired after 22 years in the Army, the family settled in West View. Joe Caskey played baseball at North Hills, his mother said.

"I heard some rumblings, but I didn't want it to be true," North Hills Principal Patrick Mannarino said after hearing about Caskey's death. "He was a good kid. I knew he would be a great Marine when he decided to do that."

Christa Cardone, by virtue of her last name, had a locker next to Joe Caskey's in high school.

"We had homeroom together, so every morning I woke up to Joe," said Cardone, 23, of Squirrel Hill. "He was goofy and always just kind of fun. He was always really serious about being in the Marines. I always remember him talking about that, and he did it."

No matter his location, Joe Caskey took with him a love of Pittsburgh's sports teams, his mother said. "We've always supported the Penguins and the Steelers, everywhere we went."

Joe Caskey was home two months ago, when his girlfriend took him to see a Penguins game, his mother said.

She described her son as a good Christian man.

"He knows the Lord, and he'd want people to know that," she said. "He was a good patriot."

Sgt. Caskey is survived by his parents Gerald and Debra Caskey, brother Jeremy Caskey (Air Force) and Joshua Caskey (Marine) as well as numerous friends.

Marine Sgt. Joseph D. Caskey was killed in action on 6/26/10.

1 comment:

Gordon said...

My great grandfathers name was also Joseph David Caskey. he lived in Scotland and was visited by a GI called Caskey during WW2. Presumably a relative of this young man. Very sad indeed.