News: Futenma mainstay remembered
Story by Lance Cpl. Donald Peterson
CAMP FOSTER, Japan - While service members transfer from one duty station to the next, Department of Defense civilian employees often spend significantly more time in one location and become not only the link between generations of service members, but also the face of their respective office.
Such was the case for David R. Cascarella, the airfield manager of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, who was as well-known for his tireless work ethic as he was for his brightly-colored dress shirts.
Cascarella passed away the morning of May 19 at Makiminato Chuou Hospital in Urasoe City, and his exuberant personality will be deeply missed by many, according to Maj. Geoffrey H. Baum, the airfield operations officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, MCAS Futenma, Marine Corps Installations Pacific.
Cascarella, affectionately called “Cas” by his colleagues, was a retired gunnery sergeant and Marine air traffic controller who operated the air station’s airfield for the past 15 years.
“Cas enjoyed life and encouraged everyone to do the same,” said Gary W. Brown, the MCAS Futenma air traffic manager. “His work ethic was second-to-none. I would describe him as a ‘dog with a bone.’ Once he was given a task, he would not quit working on it until it was complete. He would take the actions necessary to get things done and support the troops.”
Cascarella was described as a good friend and mentor by many of his co-workers, according to Brown.
“He was a big brother and a professional colleague,” said Brown. “I looked to Cas for validation and guidance. Cas was also open to the same from fellow colleagues. He was a father figure that the young troops could look to for career and life advice.”
Cascarella had strong friendships with co-workers, but his commitment to mission accomplishment was always paramount, according Lt. Col. Sean P. Patak, the MCAS Futenma executive officer. As the airfield manager, Cascarella handled any and all issues pertaining to its operations.
He interacted with a variety of people from different offices and bases on a daily basis, acting as the linchpin for many moving parts.
“Cas was easy to work with but took his profession seriously,” said Timothy M. Laferty, a planner with Facilities Engineer Division, Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, MCIPAC. “He always conducted himself professionally but at the same time with a great sense of humor. He knew almost everything about the airfield - after all, he had been stationed here off and on for the last 40 years.”
Cascarella enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1977 and retired as a gunnery sergeant in 1997. During his many years working on MCAS Futenma, he learned a great deal about past practices and contributed to numerous improvements to the air station.
“Cas knew more about the history of MCAS Futenma than all of us who work at the air station combined,” said Patak. “The projects and improvements to our installations over the years all have his fingerprints on them, and we will be forever in his debt. He has had a positive influence on countless Marines, sailors and civilians over the last couple of decades. Whoever succeeds him as the airfield manager will have some very big shoes to fill.”
A ceremony in honor of Cascarella is scheduled for May 28 at 9 a.m. at Hangar 546 on MCAS Futenma.
“There really aren’t enough words to describe the impact that Cas had not only on the air station but also on all of the people who have known and worked with him,” said Gunnery Sgt. Terry P. Harden, an aviation operations specialist with H&HS Squadron, MCAS Futenma. “He is an iconic figure for MCAS Futenma and a legend of his time. Cas had a kind heart, and we will mourn the passing of such a great man.”