On December 7, 1941, the United States was attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. When the attack ended shortly before 10:00 a.m., less than two hours after it began, the American forces had paid a fearful price. Twenty-one ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged, 188 aircraft were destroyed and another 159 damaged, and 2,403 American lives were lost, with another 1,178 persons injured.
In all the numbers and statistics of history, we find out two Casto brothers were killed that day. Fireman first class Charles Ray Casto and Fireman second class Richard Eugene Casto were serving aboard the USS Oklahoma (BB-37). I recently learned the story of the Oklahoma and how within 11 minutes of being struck by several Japanese torpedoes, the ship “turned turtle” and rolled over with men still trapped inside. Rescue crews worked feverishly for almost two days to free the men trapped inside, who were banging on the sides of the hull. Thirty-two men made it out–429 crewmembers perished.
In a world 70+ years removed from that horrible day, we find ourselves once again fighting against evil and those that would do the U.S. harm. Please support our troops in anyway you can, especially at this time of year when so many of our brave men and women are far from home and can’t share in the holidays with their loved ones. These soldiers are risking their lives, sometimes losing them, because they believe in freedom and liberty and keeping us safe. Next time you see someone in uniform, be sure to say, “Thank You”!
In 2011, I was contacted by Dee Dee King, a certified genealogist with Forensic Genealogy Services (www.forensicgenealogyservices.com/NavyCasualty.html ) and asked to assist her in providing current next of kin for the Casto brothers that served about the USS Oklahoma. I was very honored to be able to provide her with the contact information she needed. From the Forensic Genealogy Services Website:
“The Navy Casualty POW/MIA Branch contacts potential family members to share with them the U.S. Government’s efforts to recover and identify remains of American service members who failed to return from past wars and conflicts (WWII thru the Gulf War). Identification of remains from older Loss Incidents relies heavily on forensic technology which compares mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) or yDNA with family donor reference samples. This important Genealogical Outreach Program for the Department of the Navy is but a small part in the overall effort of the U.S. Government to locate, recover, and identify remains of Sailors who gave their lives to defend our Nation and the freedoms which we continue to enjoy.”
In October, 2013, I was sent the following information to share:
I found your wonderful website on the Casto brothers. What a great tribute to these two brothers lost on 7 Dec 1941.
There are 377 OKLAHOMA Sailors buried as unknowns in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, one of which is F1c Charles Casto.
The DOD is contemplating the fate of these men in regards to indentifying them. However, in the interim the Secretary of the Navy has made a position to not endorse disinterring caskets for identification purposes. A final decision has not been made at this time.
I just wanted to update you on current events concerning the USS OKLAHOMA.
Thank you for your interest and work on the USS OKLAHOMA Sailors.
UNITED STATES NAVY
I also found this news article from August, 2013:
When I first created this website, my son was 4 years old and playing with trains and soccer balls. Now, he is serving with the US Army National Guard in the Middle East and it makes my heart ache that much more for the parents and family of Charles and Richard Casto. They were beloved sons, brothers, nephews, cousins and I am very sure there were a lot of people heartbroken at their loss, especially both at the same time. Did their mother think they were “safer” serving in a paradise like Hawaii? Had she already shipped them their Christmas presents? Were they scheduled for leave and coming home for the holidays? They were only two of almost 300,000 men and women killed in combat during World War II. I am glad that we still remember those two young men who served their country with honor and bravery as well as all the others who fought for our freedom.
The USS Oklahoma Veteran
We buried an old Naval veteran today. His passing was quiet, far from that terrible affray. He had survived and done well in his final years. Unlike his shipmates, who perished in unfathomable fears. They were not supposed to be in port, they should have been out on patrol. Coming to ”Pearl” for an Admiral’s inspection would bring a deadly toll. Sailors were sleeping-in, not worried about the inspection order. “Now hear this, this is not a drill, sound general quarters.” Chaplain Schmitt was headed for church-call when the attack started. Within eleven minutes, to his heavenly father he had departed. He was below decks helping injured sailors make it safely out. A place was waiting in heaven for the Padre, there is no doubt. Father Al would be the first Chaplain to die in that world war. Pushing injured sailors thru a hatch, “move topside” he did implore. He could have made it out alive, if not for Navy protocol. Senior man stays until the end, directing escape for all. Private Joseph Lawter was on the fantail with his bugle ready to blow. After first call, he saw something flying in, straight and low. “Corporal of the guard, those are Jap planes flying just above the drink.” “Lawter you get paid to blow that bugle, not think.” It was too late, the first torpedo slammed into the port side. Within minutes more would strike the Okie’s tough old hide. Too many hatches were left open in anticipation of the Admiral’s inspection. It is easy in hindsight to see the error of this fatal leadership misdirection. The Oklahoma was senior and she should have been moored inboard. Putting her to the outside left the Okie open to the Japanese horde. This may have saved the Maryland from destruction on that December day. But it left one grand old dreadnought, lying on the bottom of the bay. The USS Oklahoma was an older battleship, from an earlier generation. With her 14 inch guns she stood ready to defend the nation. She had never fired a shot in anger, not even in the First World War. Now she is on the bottom of the ocean, her big guns never again to roar. Off Spain the Oklahoma was there to protect Americans in harm’s way In this new war she was lost to the Navy and the Nation in the opening day. She rolled over in minutes with her keel raised to the Hawaiian sky. 429 men were trapped below, and were destined to die. The Japanese sank the Oklahoma, a long list of crewmen they did cull. As small boats were passing, banging was heard on her turned up hull. Seaman Garlen Eslick and 31 others were trapped in an artificial night. It would be 28 hours before they again saw the glow of daylight. With hammers and chisels rescuers worked to pierce that dying ship. No cutting torches because life from seamen’s lungs it would strip. The crewmen were dying as the water continued to rise on the Okie’s inside. Work harder, work faster they must peel away, the old girl’s armored hide. Airman “Spider” Webb had been on board the Oklahoma for just a day. He did not know where to go, as he sprang from his rack were he lay. He would push himself through a port hole, that’s all he could do. But the Jap’s would see “Spider” again over Pacific skies of blue. “Spider” Webb would go on to win his pilot wings of gold. Taking on the enemy in the air, he proved to be a man of bold. Dogfighting, he surrounded 40 Jap planes creating a moment’s thrill. But that day he upped the score for the Oklahoma, with eight aircraft kills. The Barber brothers all joined the Navy to serve their Nation with pride. The three shipped out on the Oklahoma standing side by side. In the end they all would be lost, with no remains to be returned. Leroy, Malcolm and Randolph, respect from a grateful nation you earned. There were other brothers to serve and die on the Oklahoma that day They all had a sad history in this new war to play. Lost forever were the brothers; Woods, Trapp, Palmer, Blitz, and Casto. Into heaven they ascended, as the crew of a small boat they did row. “This is a real air raid, this is no sh__” Not a standard shipboard broadcast, but it got the message out there quick. Ensign Herbert Rommel returned to his guns as Zeros skimmed the bay. But Captain Rommel would survive, to fight and win another day. Over 1300 crewmen were assigned to the Oklahoma on that sunny morn. Eventually taps would be sounded for 429 on a bugler’s sorrowful horn. The wounded would be pulled from the water and tended as heroes all. The rest of the crew would be reassigned, to meet a suffering nation’s call. The Oklahoma never returned to challenge her enemy to a fair fight. It took years at “Pearl” to right her and bring her deck into the light. She was sold off as scrap after they pulled from her, those big guns. The USS Oklahoma was finally lost, sunken under tow in the Pacific sun. We must remember the Oklahoma, for the crew their time is running out. It must be marked in stone, to be preserved in a military redoubt. Ford Island will be the home to a memorial that will stand the test of time. For the Naval veteran he can visit and say “I was there, she was mine.” We buried an old Naval veteran today. This one, a shipmate who had seen that tragic December day. But he survived to meet his nation’s demand, to seek justice for all. He fought hard for his nation, and now takes his final military call. WE BURIED AN OLD NAVAL VETERAN TODAY. 4 July 2006 Major Van Harl USAF Ret
For more information on the USS Oklahoma, visit:
· Official Website of the USS Oklahoma: http://www.ussoklahoma.com (this is a great website!)
· Remembering the USS Oklahoma: http://www.angelfire.com/ok4/ussoklahoma/
· News Article from 2016: https://www.stripes.com/news/us/after-75-years-remains-of-5-uss-oklahoma-sailors-are-identified-1.388226 (if link is broken, click here)
· PBS Special: http://www.pbs.org/program/pearl-harbor-uss-oklahoma-final-story/
· USS Oklahoma Memorial: https://www.nps.gov/valr/planyourvisit/upload/Oklahoma%20Memorial%20Revised.pdf
As time has gone by, several links have been removed but it is nice to see that I can add more because the story of the men of the USS Oklahoma and all the others who fought in Hawaii that day has not been forgotten.
The Casto Brothers, From the USS Oklahoma (BB-37)
Charles Ray Casto and his brother, Richard Eugene Casto, both served on the USS Oklahoma (BB-37). Since originally doing this research, I have been contacted by family members of these two men. Richard and Charles Casto were the sons of David Gay and Mary Alice (Eddy) Casto. This information was sent to me by Joe Todd who has a Findagrave.com listing for Richard Casto.
Casto, Charles Ray – Fireman 1st Class. SN 3286365. Born 23 Sep 1922 in East Liverpool, OH. Son of David Gay Casto, 225 Walnut St, East Liverpool, OH. Brother of Charles Ray Casto. Source: Randy Friley, Commander VFW post 6450, Chester, WV. Casto, Richard E. – Fireman 2nd Class. Born in East Liverpool, OH. Son of David Gay Casto, 225 Walnut St, East Liverpool, OH. Brother of Charles Ray Casto. Source: Randy Friley, Commander VFW post 6450, Chester, WV 1930 Hancock Co., Chester City, Grant District, WV, ED 9, Sheet 4B: Casto, David 36 b. WV Mary A. 33 b. WV Oscar 16 b. OH Orville 14 b. WV Charles 9 b. WV Richard 7 b. OH Elene 6 b. WV 1920 Lawrence Co., PA, New Castle, ED 104, Sheet 5A: Casto, B.D. 26 b. WV Mary 23 b. WV Oscar 5 b. OH Orville 3 b. WV Ralph 8/12 b. PA
I also discovered that the VFW Post in Chester, WV, which is located right across the bridge from East Liverpool, Ohio, was known as the Burge-Casto VFW Post 6450.
If you would care to share info or ask questions, please contact Danita at Danita@castoconnections.com.