Major Chris Casey of the U.S. Air Force and an English teacher at St. Marys Area Middle School, spoke to students, fellow teachers and staff on Thursday afternoon as the keynote speaker of the school district's annual Veterans Day Assembly program.
"I recently spoke to the eighth graders about community and how important it is to take care of each other and never give up," Casey said. "Community helped shape me."
Casey is the Operational Officer for the 142 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, a part of the Delaware Air National Guard. The focus of his military career has been the support and care of our nation's wounded warriors.
His career spans 30 years in active duty, Air Reserves and Air Guard. Casey has been awarded campaign medals for Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq; the Air Force Achievement Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.
While serving 18 years as an enlisted airman, Casey was deployed to Asuncion, Paraguay in 1997 as an advisor to the Paraguayan Military, as well as serving in Korea in 1998.
Throughout his military career, Casey achieved the rank of Master Sergeant prior to accepting his commission as a Second Lieutenant in 1999.
He has deployed five times in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.
Casey resides in St. Marys with his wife Michelle and their two children, Peter and Sarah.
During his speech Casey addressed the students, emphasizing the importance of having a sense of duty.
He explained that duty drives the military as well as our local police officers, firemen and EMTs, as well as school board personnel and county officials.
Casey stated that many students already know about duty, which may include showing interest in their classwork, postponing activities until their homework is finished, pushing themselves through sports practice when they are not feeling well or know they will not be playing in the next game, or keeping a full cadence while marching in a rainstorm during a three-hour band practice.
"Every military member follows in a veteran's footsteps. We all share a common duty to preserve the American way of life," Casey said. "Hold fast your values as you accomplish your sense of duties."
Following his speech, Casey presented St. Marys Area School District Superintendent Ann Kearney with a certificate and American flag.