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USTRANSCOM remembers first commander

Gen. Darren W. McDew, commander, U.S. Transportation Command shared the news on the passing of Gen. Duane H. Cassidy, Feb. 8 at the age of 82, with members of the command

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Gen. Darren W. McDew, commander, U.S. Transportation Command shared the news on the passing of Gen. Duane H. Cassidy, Feb. 8 at the age of 82, with members of the command in the following message:


It is with a heavy heart I must relay the news of the passing of one of my heroes, a true Airlift legend and the "Father of USTRANSCOM," Gen. Duane H. Cassidy.  He will be remembered as a husband, father, grandfather, friend to all and the man who built our great command.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cassidy family - his wife Rosalie and children Michael, Susan, Diane and Patrick - during this time of mourning and grief. 


Gen. Cassidy was the perfect leader to establish this command and his fingerprints endure today.  He had a deep belief that TRANSCOM was exactly what this country needed, yet publically he voiced a healthy criticism of the idea.  Stating, "The concept had been fraught with so many problems before...I was afraid it would come out as some kind of hybrid that wouldn't work."  His critical voice ultimately led to the successful organization and capability this Nation enjoys today.


When President Reagan nominated Gen. Cassidy to be the first commander in chief of USTRANSCOM, and the Senate confirmed him on July 1, 1987, he was already the commander in chief, Military Airlift Command (MAC), which meant he now wore two command hats.  This arrangement set a precedent that endured until 2005.


Initially, Gen. Cassidy was skeptical of the efficacy of a unified transportation command, but soon realized that U.S. Transportation Command’s mission as the Department of Defense’s single manager for air, land, and sea transportation was the answer to a problem that had dogged DOD for forty years:  how can DOD effectively and efficiently sustain the warfighter and handle humanitarian crises.


Gen. Cassidy’s first priority as USTRANSCOM commander was to gain credibility for the command from the other combatant commands.  He did this by sending a high-ranking team around the world to ask what USTRANSCOM could do for them. 


He also established relations with the chief executive officers and union leaders of the commercial transportation industry to find out what they could do for USTRANSCOM.  The maritime industry especially needed shoring up.  The command drafted a National Sealift Policy, the first ever, which President George H. W. Bush signed in 1989.


 Gen. Cassidy also championed acquisition of the C-17 Globemaster III.  Creating the prototype of the Global Transportation Network, an automated command and control and in-transit visibility system that integrated data from selected transportation information systems, was another priority. 


By the time Gen. Cassidy retired in 1989, USTRANSCOM had grown from 98 military and civilian employees to 360 and was becoming a force in shaping airlift and sealift policy. As he departed, Gen. Cassidy said, “It is a privilege beyond belief to have been part of the United States Transportation Command at its inception.”


After his retirement, Gen. Cassidy said "I am lazy enough to work hard in the right areas.  I sometimes hate to go to bed.  It's exciting to be awake."


When asked about Gen. Cassidy’s continued impact on USTRANSCOM, McDew reflected, "He was an exceptionally rare leader, an officer whose legacy continues to influence nearly every decision we undertake in the Department of Defense's transportation, distribution, and sustainment enterprises.”


"Without General Cassidy's intuitive vision, particularly his deep understanding of the importance of enhancing our organic transportation capabilities with the strength and depth of American industry, our nation would certainly not have achieved the successes we have realized in war and peace over the last three decades," said McDew. 


“Sir, rest well,” Gen. McDew wrote to the members of USTRANSCOM.  “Your legacy thrives today in our U.S. Transportation Command, the command you built.”


 


                                                                              -30-

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