|Birth: ||Feb. 2, 1957|
Los Angeles County
|Death: ||Sep. 22, 2010|
San Diego County
Navy Pilot, "Top Gun" and Gulf War Veteran. His parents were Dale and Lucy Gagan and was their only child. No one was more proud of Casey than his father. He taught him love of fishing, sports, family, and a love of military service... especially in the Navy. From grade school all the way through high school, Casey had perfect attendance and high grades. He was on the sports teams and was always fit and strong. From 1975 to 1979 Casey attended the University of Southern California, was in ROTC and attained a BA in Engineering. Casey was a friendly, optimistic and handsome man who made friends easily.
He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in June, 1979 and became a pilot and flew an F-14 Tomcat. He was an advisor for the film "Top Gun". He was assigned to teach actor Anthony Edwards the Navy lingo for the film and met both Tom Cruise and Kenny Loggins, who sang "Danger Zone" for the film. Casey served in the Navy for almost 14 years and was a Lt. Commander. He served in the first Gulf War. His nickname was "Animal". One of his fellow pilots described Casey flying his jet after an event in 1984: "When it was over and time to go home "Animal" performed an amazing take off in the Tomcat. Weight off wheels, low, gear up, pull back the stick hard, mash the throttles forward! Screaming show of fire and thunderous exhaust notes from the pipes. The jet went from large Grumman Iron to a dot in seconds. An incredible show by an incredible fighter pilot."
Another former fellow pilot recalls: "In 1985 I was forced to eject out my aircraft off the San Diego coast and spent a few weeks in Balboa Naval Hospital. One face that I nearly saw daily was Casey's, who always took the time out of his busy schedule and life to make sure a friend was not doing without. He insured my spirits were kept up with a quick joke or story and a smile ... THAT smile! ... until I could return to flight status. Even then Casey was bigger that life itself and I was lucky to call him my friend."
Another fellow pilot recalled when he was new in the cockpit, with Casey in the front seat, remembered the following: "Casey was one of the most aggressive fighter pilots I ever flew with. We were flying on an air combat maneuver flight in Nevada. We were saddling in behind the "Bogey" and Casey was getting ready for a "guns kill". However we were in a climbing turn when one of the F-14 engines stalled. I saw flashing lights reflected off of the canopy in the front seat and asked Casey "What's going on? Is everything all right?" Casey calmly said "Everything's okay, fox two kill, knock it off, I'm declaring an emergency, we're single engine". He had to get the kill.
In 1987 Casey participated in San Francisco Fleet Week. His plane on the deck of the aircraft carrier "U.S.S. Kitty Hawk" was docked at the Embarcadero. He signed many autographs on the deck of the ship and spoke to many tourists about his plane and his pride in being in the Navy.
Today, some of his uniforms, medals, and awards may be found preserved at the Veterans Memorial Museum in Balboa Park in San Diego along with those of his mother Lucy Gagan and Aunt Lita, who were both WAC's during World War II. His father Dale was also a proud Navy veteran during that war.
For the last 12 years of his life, he had a domestic partner, Jance Dobrowsky, who was his constant companion. They had numerous friends, shared a lovely home near Wilshire Blvd. in West Los Angeles, and had a happy life together.
Casey was an avid sports fan and loved to participate, as well. He particularly enjoyed skiing. He also loved traveling to new places and experiencing other cultures. He also always seemed to own a red sports car, usually a Corvette, but his last was a Cadillac convertible.
There was active in community projects and donated to several causes he loved. He was a Navy League member and guest speaker, a member of the Tailhook Association, and a member for Carrier Aviation. He often spoke about the importance of financial and estate planning (which served him well after his own passing), as he worked in that field from 1994 until his untimely passing. He was a major contributor and Charter Member of the Veteran's Memorial Museum in Balboa Park in San Diego.
After his mother Lucy died in December 2008, he wrote the following:
"In May of 1990 when my dad Dale passed away I had to drive up to NAS Fallon, Nevada to attend Navy Strike Leader Advanced Training for two weeks. I fondly remember driving up Highway 395 passing Big Pine, Independence, Bishop, Tom's Place, Lee Vining, and all those cities my dad Dale, my mom Lucy and I so fondly remembered. We use to camp there and enjoy Lake Sabrina. Now 18 1/2 years later, on the week that my mom Lucy passed away, I enjoyed and remembered fondly again the serene drive up Highway 395 to Lake Tahoe. It has come full circle that in Dale's passing and now in Lucy's passing they wanted me to drive Highway 395 and remember all those special times growing up camping, fishing and playing at Lake Sabrina. Isn't that a totally ironic coincidence? It was a peaceful drive remembering my parents."
Casey was in perfect health and had only just recently had a complete physical and worked out in a gym with a personal trainer. He often traveled to San Diego to visit the grave of his parents, which he did the day of his passing.
Casey's eternal smile and optimism will never be forgotten by the many relatives, close friends and colleagues who loved him very dearly. He made friends easily and was popular with everyone who came to know him.
The service was held on Saturday October 2, 2010 in San Diego at Greenwood Mortuary. The gravesite service followed at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations to one of the 2 following charities were requested. The AIDS Project of Los Angeles (www.apla.org) or The Veterans Memorial Museum in San Diego (www.veteranmuseum.org). Casey's funeral was held during "Navy Fleet Week - San Diego", so appropriately, there were Navy airplanes in the skies above during his service.
Casey was a member of findagrave.com and his numerous notes to his mother and father may still be found on their pages. He wrote "Your findagrave memorial pages for the family are kind, touching and quite the tribute. Thanks for taking time over the years to remember all of our loved ones." Well, now here is your memorial dear Casey. God bless you!
Gagan's contributor page
Dale Joseph Gagan (1918 - 1990)
Luz Aurea Santos Gagan (1921 - 2008)
Casey A. Gagan
February 2, 1957
September 22, 2010
Holy Cross Cemetery
San Diego County
Plot: St. Jude, plot 119, grave 7
Maintained by: Lita
Originally Created by: Christian
Record added: Sep 26, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 59212569
Sherry Goolsby, Genealogical Research
Added: Jan. 26, 2016
Added: Jan. 7, 2016
Those we love don't go away...They walk beside us every day...Unseen, unheard, but always near...Still loved, still missed and very dear. In Your Memory ~ Rest in Eternal Peace ~ Thank You for Your Service|
Added: Jan. 1, 2016
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