Mike Casp

11/14/1967 Mike Casp  

1962 – 24202

To get through the line I depended especially on three teammates and Classmates, Mike Casp (our team captain) – at Right Guard, Bill Whitehead – at Center, and Barry Butzer – at Left Guard. They were great Army football players. Bill and Mike were Killed in Vietnam.  Barry was Killed in an auto accident several years ago – – Al Rushatz


Cullum No. 24202-1962 | November 14, 1967 | Died in South Vietnam
Interred in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA

Today is Memorial Day 2009 . . . a day when all Americans remember all of our comrades in arms that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Country. More than 41 years ago, Michael Allen Casp, a loving son, brother and uncle; a good friend and classmate; and, most of all, a soldier who loved his fellow troopers, made that ultimate sacrifice for all of us.

Michael Allen Casp was born in Rochester, PA, the only son of Mike and Olga Casp. Mike was raised in Beaver County, where his father worked for J&L Steel and his mother was a dedicated homemaker.

As a baby, he received the nickname “Sluggo” because of his pug nose, a characteristic of a then popular, comic strip character. Growing up, Mike was always interested in playing ball—football and baseball. As a youngster, he collected baseball cards and set up teams and games. Often, he could be heard announcing imaginary games from his bedroom, and his family thought he would grow up to be a sportscaster. He was always playing some kind of ball with the neighborhood kids. He played Little League baseball and Midget Football. Growing up, he spent his summers on his grandparents’ farm near Lake Erie.

At Beaver High School, Mike was a hard hitting halfback and fullback. He helped his team compete for the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) section championship. In baseball, he was a long ball hitter and played in the outfield. His school team won the WPIAL section championship four years in a row. He also played Junior American Legion baseball in the summer. One local newspaper said that the other teams breathed a sigh of relief when Mike left for West Point.

He was also a member of the National Honor Society and had 59 scholarship offers, including one from Navy. Seventeen years old when he left for West Point, Mike entered on 1 Jul 1958 as a member of the Class of 1962. While at the Academy and a member of Company H1, he managed to be involved in the Debate Council, Handball Club; and Dialectic Society. His Howitzer write up summarized Mike’s cadet experiences best: “Casper was known most for his aggressiveness and grim determination to win on the gridiron…His abundance of selfconfidence, along with his humility, will carry him a long way after graduation.”

Mike played fullback and linebacker before settling in as the team’s left guard. During the 1960 Army/Navy game, Mike made 15 tackles and led all players in that category. Because of these traits, Mike, wearing number 62, was elected by his teammates to become the 71st Captain of an Army football team. When he was elected Captain of the Army team, his hometown held a breakfast and a parade in his honor. Under Mike’s leadership from his position at left guard, the 1961 team completed the season with a 6-4 record that included a major upset of Penn State on the road.

Mike was commissioned in the Field Artillery and, after the prerequisite Army schools, stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC; with a Military Assistance Command—Viet Nam Advisory Team in Da Lat; and with the 1st Armored Division at Ft. Hood, TX. He then returned to South Viet Nam and commanded A Battery, 29th Field Artillery in the Central Highlands. His former battery executive officer, Dennis Dauphin, writes, “Words cannot express the admiration and respect I had for Mike Casp. He was a natural leader and allowed his officers and NCOs to do their jobs and prove their worth. Mike was never a “ring knocker” and never mentioned the honor of serving as the captain of the West Point football team.”

On 14 Nov 1967, within days of completing his second combat tour in South Viet Nam and while serving with the 4th Infantry Division as the Assistant S3 of the 3rd Brigade, Mike was killed in action near Tam Ky when his command and control helicopter was shot down while he was coordinating fire support for an Infantry unit. For his heroic actions, Mike received the Distinguished Flying Cross. He also was awarded two Bronze Star Medals and the Purple Heart. In a letter to Mike’s family, his former battalion commander wrote, “He always performed his duties as an officer in a superb manner . His loss was a severe blow to us, and we will long remember him.”

After his funeral in Beaver County at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (which he had attended since he was four years old), many relatives, friends, and former coaches took an overnight train to Washington, DC, for Mike’s burial in Arlington National Cemetery. The soldier sent from Arlington to drive the mourners was amazed at how many people there were. They initially had sent a sedan but had to order a military bus. Mike was buried with full military honors, surrounded by those who loved him.

Mike’s legacy lives on in Beaver. After his father died in 1991 and his sister, Jo Ann, was closing up the old homestead, much of Mike’s sports memorabilia was given to the local children who had looked up to Mike as they were growing up.

He is still greatly missed by all who knew and loved him. Well done, Sluggo. Be thou at peace.

Army Football, 3 Army A’s, Captain of the 1961 Team.

I was the Fire Direction Officer with A/2/9 in the Spring of 1967 when Cpt, Casp became the battery CO. If I remember correctly, Michael had served the 5 years he was obligated to serve because of going to West Point. He had requested to be released from active duty but was involuntarily extended to serve until December of 1967. Captain Casp was a great Battery Commander and person. I was privileged to serve with him. Pictured with Mike in the picture above is, Warrant Officer Franklin, counter mortar radar officer, CPT Casp, Lt. Dennis Munden, Fire Direction Officer (FDO), “Chief of Smoke” SFC Rollings, and Lt. Dennis Dauphin, Executive Officer.

CPT Michael A. Casp In memory of our fallen brother

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother”

HHC Company
1st Battalion
35th Infantry Regiment
Vietnam War

“Not For Fame or Reward
Not For Place or For Rank
But In Simple Obedience To
Duty as They Understood It”

The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, CPT Michael A. Casp, who died in the service of his country on November 14th, 1967 in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam. The cause of death was listed as Helicopter Crash. At the time of his death Michael was 27 years of age. He was from Beaver, Pennsylvania. Michael is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 29E, Line 94.

The decorations earned by CPT Michael A. Casp include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Silver Star, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.


Captain Casp was the Commander of A Battery, 2/9th Artillery. He was temporarily filling-in for the regular LNO whom was on R&R.

Mike was the Captain of the 1961 West Point football team

Mike 2d from left was Captain of the 1961 Football Team. Mike was Killed in Action

62 Guard Fall of 59

POSTED ON 11.10.2011



Capt. Casp was comander of the artillery battery I was in. Everybody liked him. He left os to go into the Infantry. He wanted more excitement. I sure miss him.

OSTED ON 9.25.2011



Hey Cousin ‘Sluggo’ It’s hard to believe it’s been over 40yrs since you left us. Whenever I think of you I see that silly grin and realize that you will forever be that young handsome soldier in my mind. You are my hero – Until we meet again – Love, Cousin Tommy

POSTED ON 9.8.2011



An American Soldier….. 

You can bet that I stand ready when the wolf growls at the door, 
Hey, I’m solid, I’m steady, I’m true down to the core, 
And I will always do my duty, no matter what the price, 
I’ve counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice, 
And I don’t want to die for you, But if dying’s asked of me, 
I’ll bear that cross with honor, ‘Cause freedom don’t come free. 
I’m an American Soldier, an American, 
Beside my Brothers and my Sisters I will proudly take a stand. 
When liberty’s in jeopardy I’ll always do what’s right. 
I’m out here on the front lines, sleep in peace tonight. 

Rest in Peace, dear Hero. 

(excerpt from Toby Keith’s song) 

POSTED ON 10.28.2007





According to records uncovered during research for this biography, Major GERARD MICHAEL WYNN was the S-1 for the Third Brigade of the Fourth Infantry Division from 1 August 1967 to 25 October 1967. 

However, that starting date is at odds with Major Wynn’s casualty data from The Vietnam Veterans Mmeorial Wall, which shows he did not come in country until 2 September 1967.

The 3rd Brigade of the 4th Division consisted of three infantry battalions: 

1/35 (Cacti Green), 2/35 (Cacti Blue), and 1/14 (Golden Dragons) 

All three of these battalions had accomplished records in Vietnam, as well as Korea and WWII. 

Initially in the 25th Infantry Division, the three battalions became members of the 4th when those two divisions swapped third brigades on 1 August 1967. 

As brigade S-1, Major WYNN would have acted as the adjutant, being responsible for ensuring that matters involving personnel, finance, record keeping, orders, assignments, etc. were competently carried-out by each battalion’s S-1.

Major WYNN became the S-3 for the 1/35 on 26 October 1967. 

The 1/35 (First Battalion, Thirty-Fifth Infantry) consisted of: 
a HQ Company, four rifle companies (A, B, C, D) and a Company E which consisted of the Recon Platoon and Heavy Weapons group. 

As battalion S-3, Major WYNN was the operational planner, sorting through various intelligence gathered and deciding on missions and daily movement routes of the four rifle companies and the Recon Platoon.

At the time Major WYNN joined the 1/35, the battalion was attached to the First Brigade of the 101st Airborne during Operation WHEELER in Quang Tin province. 

On 4 November 1967 the 1/35 became attached to the Third Brigade, First Air Cavalry Division while participating in Operation WALLOWA in northern Quang Tin and southern Quang Nam provinces. 

At this time, the 1/35 was operating in, or slightly outside, the Que Son valley. 

That valley is 24 miles long and is nestled on the borders of Quang Tin and Quang Nam provinces. 

Surrounded on three sides by double-canopy jungled mountains, the valley was home to 60,000 people and very fertile rice paddies. 

With the twin attractions of a large population to recruit from and an excellent source of foodstuffs, the valley was coveted by the VC / NVA and was hotly contested for the duration of the American involvement.

The four rifle companies though usually operating in the same general area so as to be somewhat mutually supporting. Were usually separated by several kilometers. 

In addition to distance, the difficult terrain made the helicopter indispensable for the Battalion staff. Using the helicopters as a mobile command post, each company could be visited daily, if required, for consultation with individual commanders. 

Also, the ” big picture ” view from above during an actual fight afforded the Battalion staff the advantage of seeing nuances not always as readily noticeable to beleaguered troops on the ground.

The events leading to the death of Major WYNN began unfolding on the morning of 13 November 1967. 

A six-member First Air Cavalry Division Blue team from the 1/9 was operating in western Que Son valley. 

A Blue team was in essence a self-sustained reconnaissance unit. 

They would fly around looking for “hot spots”, had helicopter gunship support and additional infantry support prioritized to them, and also could call in the regular line companies if the action was too big for them. 

On this particular morning, the Blue team spotted an NVA standing in the middle of a rice paddy and making gestures as if he wanted to surrender. 

Coming closer for a better look, their chopper was shot down by an NVA anti-aircraft battalion dug into a nearby village. 

The NVA’s weapon of choice for such encounters was the 12.7-mm machine gun, their equivalent of our .50 caliber. 

The NVA’s ultimate goal that morning was not the Blue team but rather the choppers sent to rescue the team and to attack the village. 

Reliable reports fix the number of helicopters shot down that day at between fifteen and twenty. 

As the day wore on the Blue team’s position became more and more vulnerable. 

They were pinned-down with scant cover in a rice paddy outside the village and running very low on ammunition. 

Their parent unit was spread very thin trying to provide security at every downed chopper. 

Being the closest available line company, we (Company A, 1/35) were ordered to prepare to move by helicopters to their aid. 

Our sister company Bravo was also involved in securing a downed chopper and crew approximately one kilometer from the Blue team. 

They in fact suffered the loss of one lift ship on the way in resulting in four deaths.

At that time, we were located several miles to the west still near the site of a major engagement a few days before on 9 November. 

Supported by a squadron of Armored Personnel Carriers ( APC’s ), we had assaulted a suspected NVA hospital complex. 

The engagement lasted from dawn until dusk with much heroism shown on both sides. 

The Executive Officer for the APC’s, 1st Lieutenant JAMES ALLEN TAYLOR, was awarded the Army Medal of Honor that day and the NVA fought to a standstill a total of three American infantry companies supported by armor. 

Major WYNN and our Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel ROBERT GENE KIMMEL, were both overhead that day coordinating air strikes and lifting-in two other companies in an effort to completely cordon-off the complex.

The choppers picked us up at about 1730 hours and flew very low on the way in so as not to tip-off the NVA gunners of our approach. 

We still drew heavy fire as we neared the trapped team, the air being filled with green tracers from the 12.7-mm guns. 

Several of our lift ships took hits but, miraculously, we landed unscathed and were eventually able to reach the Blue team and spent the night with them in the rice paddy. 

During the night the NVA managed to get close enough to hit the Blue team’s downed ship with a recoilless rifle. 

The ship burned all night with ammunition still on board “cooking-off” at frequent intervals. 

In addition, the trip in had flown us completely off the field map Captain CHARLES CHAPLINSKI had; as a consequence we had no communication with our battalion Net and could not even call in artillery. 

All in all, it was a very restless night spent in that muddy, damp paddy.

At around 0730 the next morning, Colonel KIMMEL’s Command and Control chopper ( C&C ) appeared overhead. 

Rain had moved in during the night and the morning remained dark and dreary with low-hanging clouds. 

Aboard with Colonel KIMMEL were Major WYNN, the artillery liaison Captain MICHAEL ALLEN CASP, 1st Lieutenant RANDALL DALE SHAFFER, plus two pilots and two door gunners. 

Their chopper had just left Co B, 1/35’s position.

Colonel KIMMEL was talking to our company commander, Captain CHARLES CHAPLINSKI, by the radio. 

Apparently a large group of NVA had been spotted to the north and the colonel wanted us to move-out in pursuit of them. 

Captain CHAPLINSKI replied that we were first waiting for the Blue team to be extracted. 

The colonel insisted that we move-out immediately but Captain CHAPLINSKI refused, noting that he did not want to leave the Blue team by themselves. 

The exchange grew very heated and finally the Captain agreed to at least start one platoon moving toward the new objective.

All during the radio exchanges we could see green tracers from the southeast rising toward the C&C ship from quite a distance away. 

Though the NVA had deserted their original position in the village, they still had a presence in the area. 

Captain CHAPLINSKI repeatedly warned Colonel KIMMEL that they were taking fire, 

” Sir, you are taking fire, sir, please be advised that you are taking fire from the south east.” 

The Colonel finally acknowledged the danger and replied, ” We will attempt to rise above it.” 

Now the 12.7-mm had a range of about one mile, so that was easier said than done.

Shortly after Colonel KIMMEL’s last transmission, we heard a loud ” ping ” and looked up to see that the rear rotor had come-off the C&C ship; undoubtedly shot-off. 

The rear rotor was held on by a large nut, referred to by helicopter mechanics as the ” Jesus Nut “, it seems likely that a 12.7 round hit that nut. 

Without a rear rotor a helicopter has no lateral stability and is nearly impossible to control. 

However, it appeared for a few seconds that the pilot might succeed in landing it. 

At this point Major WYNN came on the radio and said, ” We are coming in.” 

Captain CHAPLINSKI replied that they were over our perimeter and they should attempt to come down where we were. 

That was the last transmission we heard. 

Shortly afterwards, the tail of the C&C ship swung completely around, the ship went into a spin, and spiraled, nose-first, straight down.

It hit about 75 yards from our perimeter; there was a brief fire on impact, but I seem to recall it being out by the time we reached the helicopter. 

Lieutenant SHAFFER’s body was outside and the others were in the wreckage. 

One of the door gunners had apparently tried to jump clear of the ship, his body was found in a clump of bamboo about 100-150 feet from the crash.

In addition to Colonel KIMMEL’s staff, the following men were also on the downed ship:

Age 24 – Lookout, Kentucky

Age 20 – Wheeling, West Virginia 

Age 22 – Phoenix, Arizona 

– PILOT – 
Age 20 – Albuquerque, New Mexico

( The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall’s casualty data only shows one pilot but that is an error as there were two on the ship. The crash occurred in Quang Nam province, WO Thornton’s location is listed as Quang Tin and I feel that is a mistake and he was the other pilot involved )

Written by –

Company A,1/35
3rd Brigade of the 4th Division.

The following also contributed to this article:
DON REH – Co B 1/35
BRUCE PHILLIPS – Platoon Leader, Co A, 1/35
MATT BRENNAN – Blue Team Leader

POSTED ON 2.12.2005



Michael is buried at Arlington Nat Cem.

POSTED ON 6.12.2003




2/9th Artillery assigned as Artillery Liasion Officer to HHC Company, 1/35th Infantry, 3rd Brigade, 4th/25th Inf Division. 
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; 
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me 
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile, 
This day shall gentle his condition; 
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed 
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here, 
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks 
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

POSTED ON 6.26.2002



Mike was a battery commander in the Mighty Ninth and was finishing his tour of duty when he was killed. He was performing the duties of Artillery Liason officer to the 1st of the 35th Infantry (Cacti Green) and riding in the command helecopter with the battalion commander (LTC Kimmel), S-3 and S-3 air when it was shot down and all aboard perished. He had taken my place while I was on mid-tour R&R. The incident occurred the day I left for R&R. Mike was an outstanding leader and commander.

POSTED ON 3.1.2022



They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, 
We will remember them. 

POSTED ON 7.6.2020



I grew up in Mike’s hometown of Beaver, Pa., and he was and still is, our hero. He grew up in the projects in Vanport and his nickname was SLUGGO. He will always be remembered! 

POSTED ON 11.4.2019



Only meet him once when I was four. He getting ready to go to Vietnam. Him patients where my neighbor. His dad would set on the backpoch puffing on his cigar. Watching us play football. I was never the player his son was.

POSTED ON 11.10.2017



I am the grand-daughter of Mrs. James Mathews (sister of Michael Casp). I wish I would have had the honor of meeting you. Thank you for your service

POSTED ON 10.18.2017



Dear Captain Michael Casp, 
Thank you for your service as a Field Artillery Unit Commander. It is important for us all to acknowledge the sacrifices of those like you who answered our nation’s call. Please watch over America, it stills needs your strength, courage and faithfulness. Rest in peace with the angels.

A 57mm gun which was an unusually high caliber for the area, was guarding a headquarters of the 3rd NVA Regiment, 2nd NVA Division. The team shot down the helicopter at Dong Son. 

The commander of the 3rd NVA Regiment was later killed by B Troop, 1/9 Cavalry on 5 December in the Que Son Valley just north of LZ Ross. 

Writing a book on the Que Son Valley 

POSTED ON 1.7.2016




CPT Michael A. Casp was an alumnus of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY. He was one of 334 men from West Point who died or are MIA in Southeast Asia during the period October, 1957 – September, 1972. 

POSTED ON 11.19.2015



Mike “Sluggo” Casp a legend in Beaver football will always be remembered as one of a kind. Moved from guard to fullback, and the rest is history. Should have been Gen. Michael A; Casp.

POSTED ON 5.22.2015



Sluggo was my Dad’s (Ray E. Dawson) best friend (knew each other all their lives). They played football together at Beaver Highschool. My Dad always spoke highly of Sluggo. My Dad and your Dad were in the stands cheering you on at the Army / Navy game. I know that you & my Dad are having a fabulous time in heaven. Your parents Mr. & Mrs. Casp were our next door neighbors in Beaver for a very long time. Thank you for your service. You gave it all for your beloved country. GOD Bless America.

POSTED ON 12.13.2014


Learned all about Mike when I was growing up from my mom, grandparents and his parents. God bless him and those others who lost their lives in combat.

POSTED ON 11.4.2014


He loved us so. 
Every day, in a hundred ways, he told us so. 
In honesty, in affection, he told us so. 
He loved us so. 
Every day, in a hundred ways, he showed us so. 
With loyalty and bravery, he showed us so. 
He was our defender, and he kept us free! 
He took an oath to guard us, and fought for liberty! 
He loved us so, and we should know. 
For we loved him so. 
Captain Casp, you were the very essence of DUTY!…HONOR!…and COUNTRY! You had been there and done that in Vietnam! You were one brave man who did brave deeds for our America! You fought for the right, without question or pause! Your name and fame are the BIRTHRIGHT of EVERY American citizen! In your youth and strength…your love and loyalty…you had given all that mortality can give! You had given all to defend liberty everywhere! Beaver is very proud of you! I say again, Sir, very proud! You had lived up to the code of conduct and chivalry of those who guard this beloved land!…an ideal SO NOBLE that it arouses in all of us a sense of pride, and yet, of humility! I strongly believe and honestly, Captain, that Avonmore’s own Jill Corey, whom I greatly admire and immensely as one of my three top favorite songbirds of all time, the other two being Walton-on-Thames’s own Julie Andrews, England’s musical queen, and London’s own Dusty Springfield, another thrush from England, would be very proud of your service3 to America, and the sacrifices you made to keep us and our country free! Well done, Sir! Be thou at peace. ARMY STRONG

POSTED ON 9.18.2014




POSTED ON 12.14.2013



Dear Michael (Sluggo) , 
I met you when I was 16 years old. I was spending the summer in Albion, Pa with my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Wayne. You came to the house to say goodbye as you were leaving for your final tour in Vietnam. What a fun night we all spent eating pizza, etc. 
I still have the picture you sent me while you were in Vietnam, sorry I don’t have the letter. I have always remembered you and wish we could have gotten to see one another again. I still remember what you called me, so I will sign off with the name. 
Your a true hero in my heart. I will see you again in another time. 
Your little Pixie, 
Beth Frenzel Edwards 

POSTED ON 4.14.2013



Thank you, may God bless and keep you in his loving arms; for you have made the ultimate sacrifice so that others are free.

POSTED ON 1.6.2013


On November 14, 1967 U.S. Army helicopter UH-1D tail number 66-01006 was operating as a Command & Control ship. The crew consisted of aircraft commander WO1 Frank A. Murrietta, pilot WO1 Stephen H. Thornton, crew chief PFC Russell F. McLaughlin, and gunner SP5 Paul E. Johnson. Its four passengers included LTC Robert G. Kimmel, MAJ Gerard M. Wynn, CAPT Michael A. Casp, and 1LT Randall D. Shaffer. The aircraft received enemy 12.7mm fire which resulted in a tail rotor separation at 1,500 feet AGL. An eyewitness claimed that the aircraft subsequently got into severe mast bumping, leading to the loss of the main rotor. The ship went into a spin, and spiraled, nose-first, straight down. There were no survivors. [Taken from vhpa.org]



Photo Credit: Dennis Munden

Rest in peace with the warriors.


  1. peter j shaloni
    Posted March 19, 2016 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Michael Casp was my cousin. I was 12 when he was killed and only today on this site did I fully realize the bravery, sacrifice, and devotion to his comrades that he exhibited before giving the ultimate sacrifice. My biggest regret is that I never got to know him better had he survived. Thank you. Sincerely, Peter J Shalonis.

  2. Posted February 2, 2018 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I was the Fire Direction Officer with A/2/9 in the Spring of 1967 when Cpt, Casp became the battery CO. If I remember correctly, Michael had served the 5 years he was obligated to serve because of going to West Point. He had requested to be released from active duty but was involuntarily extended to serve until December of 1967. Captain Casp was a great Battery Commander and person. I was privileged to serve with him. Pictured with Mike in the picture above is, Warrant Officer Franklin, counter mortar radar officer, CPT Casp, Lt. Dennis Munden, Fire Direction Officer (FDO), “Chief of Smoke” SFC Rollings, and Lt. Dennis Dauphin, Executive Officer.

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