Lieutenant (SL) Anthony Austin Casadio

Service number O2361
Ranks Held Lieutenant, Lieutenant (SL)
Birth Date 1945-12-30
Birth Place Australia: South Australia, Port Lincoln
Death Date 1968-08-21
Death Place Vietnam
Final Rank Lieutenant (SL)
Service Royal Australian Navy
Unit Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam
Conflict/Operation Vietnam, 1962-1975
Gazettes Published in London Gazette in 1969-05-02
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1969-03-20

Known as “Tony” to his friends and family, Anthony Casadio was born in Port Lincoln in South Australia on the 30th of 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 the 19th of 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 the 21st of 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 the 10th of September 1968 in the Carinya Gardens Cemetery in Mount Gambier.


  • Honours and Awards:

    Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam
    Vietnam, 1962-1975
    London Gazette
    02 May 1969 on page 4657 at position 20
    Commonwealth Gazette
    20 March 1969 on page 1731 at position 4
  • Roll of Honour:

    Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam
    Vietnam, 1962-1975
    Lieutenant (SL)


Date of birth 30 December 1945
Date of death 21 August 1968