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Boston honors Vietnam War hero Maj. Gen. George W. Casey

By MARIE SZANISZLO | Boston Herald | Published: August 29, 2019

(Tribune News Service) — It has been nearly 50 years since Maj. Gen. George W. Casey was on his third tour of duty in Vietnam when the Huey helicopter he and six of his men were in flew into a dense cloud over the country’s mountainous central highlands and disappeared.

Casey was commanding the 1st Cavalry Division when he was killed that July day in 1970 while en route to Cam Ranh Bay to visit wounded soldiers from the division’s operations in Cambodia before they were transported to Japan for medical treatment.

On Wednesday, Mayor Martin Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker joined Casey’s family in dedicating the Maj. Gen. George W. Casey Amphitheater in Allston, the neighborhood where the war hero grew up, in honor of one of the highest-ranking soldiers to die in Vietnam.

“He gave his life for our country,” Walsh said. “His memory will live on in Boston, especially here in Allston, the neighborhood he loved so dearly.”

Built with contributions from the city and the Boston College Neighborhood Improvement Fund, the 250-seat amphitheater at William F. Smith Park on Western Avenue includes a bronze portrait of Casey by Bolivian sculptor Pablo Eduardo and lies about 400 yards from Franklin Street, where Casey was raised.

The fourth of seven children, he was born on March 9, 1922, in Allston to Dr. John F. Casey and Elizabeth McDermott Casey.

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He attended Boston Latin School and Harvard University before transferring to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he was commissioned in 1945.

Casey served in occupation duty in Japan after World War II and in combat during the Korean War, where he commanded a 7th Infantry Division company and received a Silver Star for his actions in the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge.

Casey’s awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, three Silver Stars, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star with Valor device, two Purple Hearts and eight Air Medals.

Casey and his wife had three daughters and two sons, including George W. Casey Jr., a retired, four-star general who served as the 36th chief of staff of the U.S. Army from 2007 to 2011.

“For me, today was sad because I remember what I lost almost 50 years ago,” George W. Casey Jr. told the Herald. “But you want to know your sacrifice wasn’t in vain, and today, I’m sure he would have felt appreciated by his community.”

The general added he still hears from Vietnam veterans who say their company was running out of bullets while it was being overrun, when his father flew under fire and dropped them ammunition.

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