1st Lt Onore E. Case Biography-5

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Lt. Colonel Onore E. Case:

A Tribute from son-in-law Lt. Col Doug Benjamin (USAF, Retired)

My wife and I learned from some of the things you were able to find, in particular the letter from George Cahill (see the letter in the <Case Photo Gallery>).  The Cahill’s were life-long friends of my wife’s parents.  I did not know them at all, but my wife remembers them well.  The letter was particularly touching for her.

As you pointed out, Casey was born in a small town in the northern Alps of Italy in 1926.  His father had come to the US with Casey’ uncle in the late 1910’s, and earned his US citizenship as a result of serving in the US Army during WWI.  When Casey was ~2, he and his pregnant mother made the trip from Genoa to New York, and then on to Grand Junction, CO, where Casey’s father had settled following WWI.  His parents had two more boys who were both born in the US.  As your story pointed out, Casey’s mother died of consumption (tuberculosis) when Casey was 10 years old.  His father couldn’t take care of the boys, and so they went to an orphanage and then a boys’ school.  Casey turned 18 in the summer of 1944, and either enlisted or was drafted.  He was training to be part of the invasion force for Japan when the war ended.  My wife strongly feels the reason she exists is due to the use of the atomic bombs to close out the war quickly - it is very likely her dad would have been a casualty, and perhaps killed, and never have met her mother.

Instead he was posted to Europe (first in Austria) for his first enlistment.  He left the Army after the war and did some school on the GI Bill at Denver University.  He re-entered the Army and was posted on occupation duty in Germany.  It was there that he met Anneliese, who was from a small town near Heidelberg.  When they first met, it was illegal for American soldiers to marry German nationals; as the letter from Captain Cahill attests, when that prohibition was lifted, they married as soon as they were allowed to.  It apparently took Congressional intervention for that to happen - a story my wife’s Dad told her, but fascinating to see proof of in the record.

Casey went to Army pilot training relatively late in both his career and in his life: in his thirties with a wife learning English and American customs in a small Texas town.  His career moved his family often…he was personally fascinated with American history, and used each move and each assignment to explore the historically significant towns / places in our Revolutionary and Civil War past, and this interest continues with the entire family.

The Case family considered Colorado Springs to be home - they were stationed there 3 times, including while Casey was in Korea and Vietnam.  Casey was offered another tour in Vietnam around 1971, and he felt that another combat tour was simply tempting fate too much.  As a result, he retired in 1971, and lived in Colorado Springs for the remainder of his life. 

Casey’s story is certainly one of a very disadvantaged child who despite the odds becomes an officer in the armed forces and does well for himself.  If his family had stayed in Italy, he likely would have been a miner, and definitely would have been fighting for another side.  He was always a proud American and appreciated the opportunities he knew he would not have had otherwise.