2018 Hall of Fame Honoree
Captain Michael Casey’s life was one of honor, outstanding achievement, and love. He is described by his beloved sisters as “the precious light of our family. He was a great American Army hero who loved God, family, his OMA friends, and his country.”
Michael Dale Casey grew up and spent much of his childhood in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. He was raised by his mother and seven older siblings, as his father died when he was 15 months old. He attended school in Sallisaw until 1962, when he began his studies at Oklahoma Military Academy. There he completed two years of high school and two years of Junior College. Casey was highly active and involved in Chapel Counsel, Drill Team, Saber Society, Outstanding Company, Best Drill Platoon, Chevron Society, Marching Band, and Judges Bench.
He also earned honors, including Military Proficiency Ribbon, Merit Ribbon, High School and College Drill Team Letter, Academic Achievement Wreath, and Outstanding Cadet Identification Disc. During his schooling, he also attended ROTC Ft Sill Summer Camp and was a MST Contract Student. He rose to the rank of Cadet Major.
OMA’s training helped Casey to become an outstanding active duty Army infantry soldier. After graduating from OMA, he attended Oklahoma State University, where he was active in ROTC and studied Military Science.
A year later, in the summer of 1967, Casey enlisted for active duty for the U.S. Army Reserve and was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant. He attended basic training in Fort Benning, Georgia, and later in Fort Hood, Texas. In September 1968, he was assigned to Vietnam. There he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant to the 7th Squadron, 17th Air Calvary, and Aero-Rifle Platoon Commander.
During Captain Casey’s time in Vietnam, his troop, the “Ruthless Riders” was assigned to reconnaissance work and rescue missions, usually on foot or via helicopter deep in the jungle. His team captured the Viet Cong District Headquarters, the only successful headquarters capture by the U.S. during the entire Vietnam War. Commander of A-Troop, Major Marshall, described the bond between Casey and his troop: “His platoon showed more respect for him than any other officer. Mike would not send his men anywhere that he would not go himself.” He recalls they called him “Blue” out of their deep respect for him.
After Casey’s first tour in Vietnam, he then volunteered for an additional six months and rose to the rank of Captain. He was always very passionate about rescue missions, and even told his sister, “All those men left out in that jungle to die are some mother’s sons, and I’m going to help save them if I can.” He often spoke of being unafraid to die, and of his deep brotherly love for his comrades.
When he returned to Vietnam, he was first placed in a relatively safe area, but soon volunteered to move to a combat area. After 16 months in the Vietnam War, Captain Casey gave his life for his country on January 23, 1970. He volunteered to go on a deep jungle rescue mission to rescue wounded comrades who had been left behind. He rescued two wounded men before going back for the third. He died with the third man in his arms, laying down his life for his brother.
“Greater Love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for a friend.” –John 15:13
Captain Casey was laid to rest in Sallisaw Cemetery with full military honors.
In his brief military career of 27 months (16 months in South Vietnam), Casey was awarded 16 medals: the Silver Star for Gallantry in Action, Air Medal for Meritorious Achievement in Aerial Flight, Army Commendation Medal for Heroism in Vietnam, two Bronze Star Medals for Valor, two Purple Hearts for Battle Wounds, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, National Defense Service Medal, Sharpshooter Badge for Heroism, Helicopter Wings and the Republic of Vietnam National Order Fifth Class Ribbon.