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2006 – General Duane H. Cassidy, USAF (Ret)

General Duane H. Cassidy, USAF (Ret)

General Duane H. Cassidy, USAF (Ret)

General Duane H. Cassidy was born in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, in 1933. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska in 1968 and a Master of Science degree from Troy State University in 1975. He completed Squadron Officer School in 1961, Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1973, Air War College in 1975, the J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University in 1979, and the program for senior executives in national and international security at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, in 1983

Upon completion of aviation cadet training, the general was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1954. He then attended navigator training at Harlingen and James Connally Air Force bases, Texas. His initial operational assignments in the Air Force were to the Military Air Transport Service: first to the Air Weather Service’s 6th Weather Group, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, flying B-25s, and then to Air Rescue Service’s 49th Air Rescue Squadron, Selfridge Air Force Base, Michigan. During these assignments he participated in numerous rescue and weather reconnaissance missions, including the hydrogen weapons test in 1956 at Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands. His navigator assignments ended after two years as a Military Air Transport Service C-121 line crew member at Charleston Air Force Base, SC He entered pilot training in December 1958

General Cassidy was assigned to Strategic Air Command after graduation from pilot training and flew B-47s at McCoy Air Force Base, Florida, Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, and Lincoln Air Force Base, Nebraska. In November 1965 he transferred to Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, and served with the 810th Strategic Aerospace Division, whose mission included B-52 bomber and Minuteman missile operations. In September 1968 he was assigned to the Republic of Vietnam, serving first with 7th Air Force’s Tactical Air Control Center and then with the Military Assistance Command Vietnam Directorate of Public Affairs as an air briefer to the Saigon press corps

The general returned to the Air Force airlift mission in October 1969. He was assigned to Military Airlift Command headquarters as executive to the deputy chief of staff for operations, and later as executive aide and pilot for the Military Airlift Command commander. In August 1972 he assumed command of the 8th Military Airlift Squadron, McChord Air Force Base, Washington. He entered Air War College in August 1974 and, upon graduation, again served at Military Airlift Command headquarters, as assistant chief of staff

In August 1976 General Cassidy was assigned as vice commander of the 63rd Military Airlift Wing at Norton Air Force Base, California. In February 1978 he became commander of the wing. He returned to Military Airlift Command headquarters in July 1980 and served initially as assistant deputy chief of staff for operations. In August 1981 he became the command’s deputy chief of staff for operations

From October 1983 to August 1984 he served as commander of Military Airlift Command’s 21st Air Force at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey. During this period Military Airlift Command was heavily involved in support of United States’ operations in Lebanon and Grenada. General Cassidy then transferred to Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., where he served as deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel

General Cassidy assumed command of Military Airlift Command in September 1985, and was promoted to general in November of that year. As commander in chief of Military Airlift Command (CINCMAC), he was responsible for military airlift in support of unified and specified commands during war, periods of crisis and contingencies. General Cassidy’s tenure as CINCMAC was both extensive and impressive. He directed development of vigorous, continual, and imaginative mobility policies and the procuring of transportation assets needed to support the national strategy of forward defense. One result of this effort was a new and more meaningful National Airlift Policy statement which President Reagan approved as National Security Decision Directive Number 280 on 24 June 1987. This new policy replaced the outdated “Presidentially Approved Courses of Action” issued in February 1960. It mandated increasingly close cooperation between MAC and the civil air carriers and substantiated the procurement of a sufficient number of aircraft to meet the documented airlift shortage. As an articulate and persuasive spokesman for procuring the C-17 as the next generation airlifter his untiring efforts resulted in Congressional approval for full-scale production funding for the C-17

He presided over the execution of one of the most significant operations undertaken by the Command in the 1980s. As an outgrowth of much improved relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, the two superpowers signed, in December 1987, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which provided for the elimination of an entire category of weapons from the nuclear arsenal of both nations and mutual on-site verification of their destructions and site close-outs. According to a precise set of procedures stipulated in the treaty, MAC airlifted American inspectors to points of entry inside the Soviet Union and transported Soviet inspectors within the United States

The Command also became involved in many well-publicized humanitarian airlift activities that took MAC’s aircraft to virtually every corner of the globe: flying relief supplies in September 1985 to earthquake victims in Mexico City; operating missions in support of Afghan refugees; undertaking hurricane relief missions in the Caribbean and flood relief flights in Bangladesh in September 1988; and supporting relief efforts in Yerevan, Armenia, during December 1988 and January 1989, after one of the most disastrous earthquakes of the century claimed the lives of 40,000 people and left another 500,000 homeless

General Cassidy also presided over several contingency operations during his four-year command of MAC. Only a few of which were: the evacuations of the former Philippine and Haitian heads of state in February 1986; the April 1988 textbook deployment of 1,300 security specialists from the United States to Panama to protect thousands of Americans living there; and the March 1989 movement of a United Nations Transition Advisory Group and its cargo to Namibia, in Africa

During the four years General Cassidy commanded MAC, the command received numerous awards. Chief among these were two Air Force Organizational Excellence Awards, won by Headquarters MAC; and the 1988 Benjamin D. Foulois Memorial Award for flight safety, which the command earned for completing fiscal 1988 without a single Class A or Class B mishap. No other major command with a substantial flying hour program has ever recorded such an achievement

The general assumed command of U.S. Transportation Command upon its activation 1 October 1987. As commander in chief of Transportation Command (CINCTRANSCOM) he was responsible for global land, air and sea transportation for all U.S. fighting forces. Operating directly under the Joint Chiefs of Staff, this new unified command maintained a worldwide mobility system for use in contingency situations. It incorporated as components not only the Military Airlift Command, but also the Navy’s Military Sealift Command and the Army’s Military Traffic Management Command. With the establishment of the United States Transportation Command, the opportunity existed for the first time in the nation’s history to create a viable, efficient, and unified air, land, and sea transportation system which General Cassidy pressed during his tenure as CINCMAC

During the period he served as the “dual-hatted” commander of both USTRANSCOM and MAC, he also commanded special operations, rescue, weather, aeromedical evacuation, audiovisual and operational support airlift forces for Department of Defense agencies throughout the world, and served as executive director of the Single Manager Operating Agency for the Department of Defense Airlift Service

At the time of his retirement from the U.S. Air Force on 30 September 1989, General Cassidy was a command pilot and senior navigator with more than 8,000 flying hours. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and the Air Medal. General Cassidy also wears the Parachutist Badge

Following his Air Force career, General Cassidy continued to work in the transportation arena. He spent the next eight years and three months with CSX Corporation serving as Vice President of Logistics Technology; Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing for CSX Transportation, the railroad arm of CSX Corporation; and, finally, as Corporate Vice President and Chairman, the Commercial Board. He retired from CSX in January 1998

An ardent supporter of the Airlift/Tanker Association, General Cassidy served as the Association’s Chairman of the Board of Officers from November 1999 through November 2003, and currently serves as the Chairman of the Nominating Committee

General Cassidy believes that military life – training, education, planning, operations, and other experiences – prepare people for a successful career in business. The two careers, military and business, are, in his words, “a near perfect match,” and throughout both his military and civilian transportation careers, General Cassidy stressed two main themes: First and foremost, his conviction that quality leadership is based on personal commitment; and second, his belief that transportation, in the military and in the private sector, plays, and will continue to play, a central role in our nation’s defense

General Cassidy believes that the study of history is fundamental to leadership development. He also believes that leaders must focus their organizations on customers and strategic planning. Above all else, leaders must focus on their people. The higher that leaders progress in their organizations, the more time they must invest in hiring, placing, developing, compensating, and promoting employees. Leaders must not only understand their people, they must empathize with them. They must make their people feel good about their jobs and contributions to the organization. Leaders must never let their employees be satisfied with the status quo. Instead, they must motivate their people to excel by continually “raising the bar” on personal and professional standards, and by setting increasingly higher goals. Finally, senior people, in the military and in business, who do not put their people first, are managers not leaders, and military and business organizations that don’t put their people first, fail

In his 1998 Oral History, General Cassidy predicted that “[in the future] there will be an increased dependence on transportation: air, land and sea [there will be] a greater demand on mobility, flexibility and speed, especially airlift US strategy will depend increasingly upon strategic mobility the key to our strategy must be transportation.” His prediction was proven with crystal-clear clarity by America’s response to the events of 9/11. All of our nation’s transportation assets have been in high gear ever since – and arguably, none more so than our airlift and aerial refueling capabilities. Thanks to the vision and unwavering determination of leaders like General Cassidy, America has the assets to perform the task at hand, and the C-17 Globemaster III, the “next generation airlifter” which he worked so hard to acquire for Air Force, has proven to be the workhorse he repeatedly said it would be

General Duane H. Cassidy is an enthusiastic advocate for America’s air mobility mission – an air mobility statesman, a genuine American patriot, and a dedicated supporter of the Airlift/Tanker Association. He truly merits being added to the honor roll of men and women whose insight and dedication helped to build the most formidable and compassionate Air Mobility force in world

General Duane H. Cassidy is exceptionally worthy of induction into the Airlift/Tanker Association Hall of Fame