Duane Castro – RIP

Duane Stephen Castro
Date of Birth: August 4, 1954
Date of Death: April 28, 1980

I knew Duane well as I was a pilot in his unit at Ft. Bragg, NC when he was killed. Duane and I worked in the same office as he was the Supply Officer and I the Budget Officer. He and I flew many flights together as he enjoyed flying along on my OH-58A trips. At that time the OH-58’s were flown with one pilot so I took him along when I had an extra seat. He so loved flying and was a good pilot. I remember well the trip his accident occurred on as I had flown that same aircraft the day before on the same mission. The weather was so bad I cancelled the mission he was flying that day. There is no way I was going to slug my way back through that weather on the following day again. How he ended up flying that day I will never know. It was a sad day I remember well and he was so missed for all these years. I think of him often.
Eddie L. Hill

DuaneCastro_1976_ArmyLFB_Boxing_KilledonActiveDuty_Apr281980

DuaneCastro_Memorial_AssemblyDec81

http://www.west-point.org/users/usma1976/34204/

“An eagle has never soared so high as the aspirations of Duane S. Castro” – eulogized our class “Friend”  above. 

So beautifully and metaphorically conveyed!

Duane truly was an unforgettable force of nature; pure energy – as others bear witness and express so eloquently in their eulogies.

For years, I have mulled how I might one day honor and preserve his memory – beyond the gesture of writing to his parents after his passing and sending along a news article from North Carolina (that I now wish I had made a copy to share herein).

We became friends beginning in our Plebe year, meeting on the practice field adjacent to the Field House and playing together at Shea Stadium.  Many was the time after practice when, Duane, Chris, I (and other teammates) walked together back up the steep incline to the barracks that first fall season. Duane was always so upbeat and positive as we trudged upward – our own anxiety mounting with each step – always boosting our spirits and telling us of the good times to come!  Slowly, as we neared the top level with the Plain, and morphed into good beanheads, Duane would bound away with a cheery farewell enroute the “Lost 50’s” and 4th Reg’t,  while Chris and I screwed our chins in and pinged back to what we knew and dreaded, awaited us at 1st Reg’t!  But I digress….

The above posted and described exploits and character of Duane best tell the all too short story of this great man.

At IOBC we stayed close; anticipating upcoming marriages, and our similar next first assignment with the 4th ID (Mech).  Duane scouted Colorado ahead of me, as I went off to Ranger school.  We met up again at the far end and enjoyed each others’ company along with that of our fellow classmates, when duties allowed, at the Golden Bee, our apartments and, leading the way always, at Duane’s new house in C-Springs!  Over time, I must confess, Duane was a bit chagrined to find that I had lost most of my party-hearty proclivities – well almost most.

Within two years,  I was off to another assignment and when I last spoke to him, he told me he was off to flight-school…to push his personal envelope…always that was Duane.

Before we could reconnect (in those days before e-mail or cell-phones), he was suddenly gone.  My folks, living on the Virginia Peninsula, relayed to me the shocking news…..

As the years have past,  and I think back on Duane – especially it seems when I’m commuting over and under the waters of Hampton Roads – I cannot help but remember that it is very near where he once soared above – as if an eagle with wings….

1975_3rdVictoryoverNavy_withDuaneCastro-ChrisGrates

“smiles for our 3rd Victory over the Navy! –

one of the “good” times Duane predicted! – only better!”

4 Comments

  1. Eddie L. Hill
    Posted December 31, 2017 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    I knew Duane well as I was a pilot in his unit at Ft. Bragg, NC when he was killed. Duane and I worked in the same office as he was the Supply Officer and I the Budget Officer. He and I flew many flights together as he enjoyed flying along on my OH-58A trips. At that time the OH-58’s were flown with one pilot so I took him along when I had an extra seat. He so loved flying and was a good pilot. I remember well the trip his accident occurred on as I had flown that same aircraft the day before on the same mission. The weather was so bad I cancelled the mission he was flying that day. There is no way I was going to slug my way back through that weather on the following day again. How he ended up flying that day I will never know. It was a sad day I remember well and he was so missed for all these years. I think of him often.

  2. Vicki Castro Lockhart
    Posted August 4, 2018 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    To all who may be thinking of Duane, as I am today, on his 64th birthday, thank you for remembering him and posting on this site. I read your comment today Eddie and I want to share with you that I spoke with Duane on the phone the night before he flew his last flight. The conversation was mostly about his tuxedo for my upcoming wedding but he also conveyed concern about the weather and wasn’t sure if he would fly the next day. Alas we can not change fate but we do learn to appreciate the positive and joyful people in our lives. As Duane’s younger sister by one year, I can attest to the fact that he was extremely kind and considerate as well as someone you could really have a good time with. Will you still need me when I’m 64?……Always!

  3. Eddie L. Hill
    Posted May 22, 2019 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Hello Vicki. I just saw your posting today 5-22-19. Was thinking about Duane this afternoon and on the computer so I looked him up again. I can agree with your statement that Duane was extremely kind and considerate as well as a person you could really have a good time with. I only know him a short time, but I remembered the day he transferred into the unit. He was assigned to the supply office and he and I shared the same office. It was an instant friendship. I was so impressed in his coming from West Point. I was at the time a Warrant Officer II. Duane was never someone to make himself more important that another service member no matter his rank. I took him on many flights in the OH-58A as we were a single pilot aircraft so the co-pilot seat was open most of the time. I remember him talking about his tuxedo for your wedding. Haven’t thought of that in 40 years. I can tell you I was so very sorry when he passed away and I have missed him for what feels like 1000 years. If you ever want to talk about him my phone is 863-368-0428 just give me a call.

  4. Vicki Lockhart
    Posted May 22, 2019 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Nice to hear from you Eddie! I am on vacation but will call you soon. You will know it’s me because my number starts with 404.

One Trackback

  1. By state Board of education In texas Certification on August 16, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    state Board of education In texas Certification

    Duane Castro – RIP « For What They Gave on Saturday Afternoon

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