|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 attained the rank of a Lieutenant Commander.
He served in the first Gulf War and was given the nickname "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.
Upon his discharge, Casey became a charter member and major contributor to the Veterans Memorial Museum in Balboa Park in San Diego, along with 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, who was his constant companion. They lived near Wilshire Blvd. in West Los Angeles, had many friends, and lived 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 loved cars and seemed to always drive a red sports car, usually a Corvette, though his last was a Cadillac XLR.
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. After his discharge, he remained close friends with many of the former officers who served with him.
After his military service he worked in the financial and estate planning field, which served him well after his own untimely passing. He was a major contributor and Charter Member of the Veteran's Memorial Museum in Balboa Park in San Diego, along with his mother and aunt, both former service members themselves.
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, however, the loss of his beloved mother Lucy seemed to affect him greatly. He often traveled to San Diego to visit the grave of his parents and did just that on the morning of his passing. A few hours later, he passed from this life.
Casey's 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 and the Veterans Memorial Museum in San Diego. 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.
Gagan's contributor page
Dale Joseph Gagan (1918 - 1990)
Luz Aurea Santos Gagan (1921 - 2008)
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