The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (O2361) Lieutenant (SL) Anthony Austin Casadio, Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam, Vietnam War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.30
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 30 January 2018
Access Open
Conflict Vietnam, 1962-1975
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (O2361) Lieutenant (SL) Anthony Austin Casadio, Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam, Vietnam War.

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Speech transcript

O2361 Lieutenant (SL) Anthony Austin Casadio, Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam
Died in helicopter crash 21 August 1968

Today we remember and pay tribute to Anthony Austin Casadio.

Known as “Tony” to his friends and family, Anthony Casadio was born in Port Lincoln in South Australia on 30 December 1945. He grew up in Mount Gambier, where he attended Marist Brothers College.

Casadio joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1964 and trained as a helicopter pilot. After graduating from RAAF flying school at Pearce in Western Australia, he began flying helicopters from HMAS Melbourne.

In 1967 he joined the first contingent of the Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam, which had been formed to support US and South Vietnamese ground forces. The Australians fully integrated into the US Army 135th Assault Helicopter Company, and were the only such Australian-US integrated unit during the Vietnam War. Known as EMU – the Experimental Military Unit – the unit took on the large flightless bird as an ironic mascot and call sign. The motto of the company also had a uniquely Australian ring to it: “Get the bloody job done”.

The 135th Assault Helicopter Company flew US Army Iroquois “Huey” helicopters in two configurations: the gunship and the troop transport, or “slick”. Tony was a gunship pilot and squadron leader. He was also the pilot of the first helicopter of the unit to be shot down.

On 19 November 1967, Tony was piloting a helicopter that was attacking a Viet Cong position. When his gunship was hit by small arms fire, the fuel tanks were punctured. He managed to successfully crash-land the aircraft in enemy-controlled territory in the Rung Sat Special Zone. Then, using the helicopter’s machine guns, he and the gunship crew were able to hold off advancing Viet Cong soldiers before being rescued by another EMU helicopter. For his leadership, skill, and courage during this encounter, Tony was awarded the US Distinguished Flying Cross, the first gallantry award to be won by a naval aviator in Vietnam.

In December 1967, the 135th moved from the increasingly crowded base at Vung Tau to the American fire support base Black Horse near Xuan Loc. From there the unit flew troop lift, combat assault, and support missions in Phuoc Tuy province and the Mekong Delta. The helicopters often came under heavy fire while inserting and extracting US, Australian, and South Vietnamese soldiers.

On 21 August 1968, Tony was leading a team of gunships, flying at tree-top level from Black Horse to Nui Dat, when his gunship was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. It crashed in a clearing, and Lieutenant Anthony Casadio, fellow Australian Petty Officer O’Brian Phillips, and two American crew members were killed on impact.

The loss of the four men was keenly felt at Black Horse base, all the more because Tony was ten months into his 12-month tour of duty. A memorial service was held in the days after the incident. Tony’s record of “constant heroic acts and exceptional devotion to duty” was posthumously mentioned in despatches. Tony Casadio was 22 years old.

His remains were buried on 10 September 1968 in the Carinya Gardens Cemetery in Mount Gambier.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among more than 500 Australians who died in or as a result of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Lieutenant Anthony Austin Casadio, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Thomas Rogers
Historian, Military History Section

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