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    SPC Christopher J. Cascardo: Soldier, son, and leader

    7th Army NCOA graduates

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Christopher Stewart | U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Joseph Cascardo, assigned to 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Christopher Stewart 

    7th Army Training Command

    What happens if your parachute doesn’t deploy? Just trust your equipment… right? How long will it take to get to the ground?

    Thoughts like these raced through Spc. Christopher Joseph Cascardo’s head, as he sat patiently, packed with the others in the belly of a C-17 Globemaster III on his first night jump. Anxious and tired, he looked to his battle buddies and asked, “Are we really about to jump out of this airplane right now? Look at how fast we’re going!” Unfortunately, the roar of the engines did not help his cause.

    It was not long before Cascardo, an airborne qualified paralegal specialist assigned to 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, saw a green glow illuminating the jumpmaster, a sign for the rest of them to hook up to the static line. Like a portal into the vast darkness, Cascardo jumped out of the aircraft, leaving the security of the giant flying fortress for a long, chilling drop.

    A self-proclaimed “knucklehead,” Cascardo certainly needed an opportunity for change.

    “I wasn’t always the most squared away guy,” said Cascardo. “I was getting in trouble in high school, and my dad was upset with that, because he wanted to see me succeed.”

    After being a Soldier for just over two years, his latest accomplishment took him full circle: Cascardo graduated from the Basic Leader’s Course (BLC) at the 7th Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy (7th Army NCOA) in Grafenwoehr, Germany, Oct. 25, 2019, where his father, Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Cascardo, is the commandant.

    As an Army ‘brat,’ he grew up where his father’s work took them. Luckily, as far back as he could remember, he only moved two times in his childhood: after 14 years in Stafford, Virgina, he and his father moved to Syracuse, New York, while his father finished a degree.

    “He’s been exposed to the military his whole life,” his father said. “That exposure that he basically grew up with up until (he was) a young adult, I think that he sees it as a positive thing.”

    After graduating high school, Cascardo joined the enterprise he was most familiar with: the U.S. Army.

    After getting some experience under his belt, Cascardo’s priorities started to shift.

    “14, 15, 16, even 18-year-old me wasn’t in class. I was out doing stupid stuff with my friends,” Cascardo said. “Now I see the importance of education, and how it opens a lot of doors. I value education a lot more thanks to the Army.”

    In order to promote to a noncommissioned officer, he prepared himself to enter BLC, the first course of study in the U.S. Army noncommissioned officer education system (NCOES). As soon as he was in, he excelled.

    “The first thing that I noticed is that you can tell he’s been around the Army for a while,” said Staff Sgt. Cordell Mitchell, one of Cascardo’s Small Group Leaders (SGL). “He didn’t have the typical nervousness of a student when they come in. The first day of the PT (physical training) test, he was the first one to volunteer to march the group and call cadence. From the very beginning, he was leading the other students from the front.”

    During the Commandant’s Challenge, a workout held each cycle to push the students and build camaraderie, Mitchell found Cascardo literally pulling more than his weight.

    “There were several people in his squad who could not climb the rope, so of the six times his squad needed to climb the rope, he climbed it three of those times. He was a motivator. He wasn’t going to leave any of his buddies behind, and it showed me the kind of character that he has.”

    Mitchell stated that Cascardo had the opportunity for arrogance, by throwing his dad’s name around, but he never acted that way.

    “If his last name wasn’t Cascardo, I would have never put the two together,” said Mitchell.

    Not only did he capture the attention of his SGLs but he captured his peers’ attention as well. Cascardo made sure his peers did not fall behind. He pushed the envelope even further by helping peers achieve academic honors.

    Giving helpful feedback during public speaking practice, editing numerous drafts of essays, and sharing stories of how to help other Soldiers are a few examples, according to Spc. Mario Roman of the 529th Military Police company in Wiesbaden, Germany, who was Cascardo’s roommate while in BLC.

    “If it wasn’t for him and another battle (buddy), I probably wouldn’t have made the commandant’s list because they were there for me,” said Roman.

    Cascardo’s good-natured demeanor and desire to help those around him are a few qualities that make him such a well-respected leader among his peers and SGLs. He values people and respects their opinions.

    Ultimately, the Army unveiled to him what matters most to him: relationships.

    “I won’t tell (my dad) this but, the Army has definitely opened my eyes and shown me to stop being a knucklehead, and to take care of your Soldiers,” he said.

    “An NCO that I used to work with told me that he’s staying (in the Army) because he loves helping Soldiers, and that’s something that I took to heart. Being the good NCO is what motivates me to stay in.

    When Cascardo first decided to join the Army, he was not following in his father’s footsteps, he was looking for a steady paycheck. As he matured, he started to see a path and chose to follow it. As the Army molded him, he started to see his leadership potential and embraced it.

    “Whether he stays in as enlisted, becomes an officer, or leaves the Army, he’s one of those guys that is going to be successful no matter what route he takes,” said Mitchell. “He’s got a lot of potential.”



    Date Taken: 11.08.2019
    Date Posted: 11.08.2019 09:44
    Story ID: 351085
    Location: GRAFENWOEHR, BY, DE 
    Hometown: STAFFORD, VA, US

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