Casto, Clarence Leroy, SSG

 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
28 kb
View Time Line
Last Rank
Staff Sergeant
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1966-1966, A Company, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry
Service Years
1951 - 1966

Staff Sergeant

Five Service Stripes

One Overseas Service Bar

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
Year of Birth
This Fallen Army Profile is not currently maintained by any Member. If you would like to take responsibility for researching and maintaining this Fallen profile please click HERE
Casualty Info
Home Town
Jefferson, OH
Last Address
Jefferson, OH

Casualty Date
Nov 13, 1966
Hostile, Died
Gun, Small Arms Fire
Vietnam, South (Vietnam)
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Pleasant Hill Cemetery - West Jefferson, Ohio
Wall/Plot Coordinates
12E 066

 Official Badges 

Infantry Shoulder Cord

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  2013, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

Combat Infantryman 1st Award

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
1st Battalion, 14th Infantry 25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightning)
  1964-1966, HHC, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry
  1964-1966, 25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightning)
  1966-1966, A Company, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1945-1950 US Occupation of Germany (WWII)
  1966-1966 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Campaign (1965-66)
  1966-1966 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase II Campaign (1966-67)
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Not Specified
25 April 2011
"Cass and I served in the same Platoon in Hawaii and Vietnam. In Hawaii he was the Armorer and I was a young private assigned to help him check and issue weapons. His Red hair and tough beard caused me a lot of pain. He was always picking and joking. he wasn't much of a garrison soldier but inthe field he was the best he taught me a lot and helped me go up thru the ranks. I was with him the day he died Nov.13 1966. I was wounded bad at thhe same time he was hit. Me a young Sgt. and him a Staff walking point. because we never asked one of the squad to do something we wouldn't do. Thanks for posting this, My Brother. Welcome Home. Golden Dragon."
IN Marthers, Daniel T., SFC

The Case of the Missing Dragon
By Tom Jones

   When the warriors of two Battalions of the 14th Infantry (Golden Dragons), 25th Infantry Division departed Quad E of Schofield Barracks in Hawaii for Vietnam in early 1966, they left behind on the lawn a seven foot tall, 800 pound replica of their namesake.

   The Spring 2007 issue of the 25th Infantry Division’s quarterly magazine “Tropic Lightning Flashes” opened the “Mystery” issue by running an article (Monument To Dragons) from March 1960 detailing the origin and picturing the statue that was unveiled on 28 September 1959.

   The article goes on to substantiate part of the legend that the metal scales on the drag­on were nothing more than spoons pur­loined from Regimental Mess Halls when it states “By improvising and employing such tools that can be found in any mess hall plus a hammer and file, SP4 Stephen Cardinelli and PFC Morton Munroe, Headquarters Company, spent many hours of tedious labor in producing a replica of the mystical creature, long regarded by the Chinese as a symbol of power”.

   The “Missing Dragon Mystery” first became an issue in my life around 1987 when I next returned to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. My wife and I were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and taking a special trip accompanied by our two teenaged daughters (one of whom who had been born at Oahu’s Tripler Army Hospital in 1965). I had spent hours “prepping” them for the magnificent, huge, monument I had held in my mind’s eye for so many years.
Tom Jones beside the    I continued my dialogue as we drove around Post in our rental car trying to locate the statue that I recalled as being located on the outer comer of Quad E.  I soon discovered it was no longer there, so the search turned into simply locating the headquarters of the 14th Infantry. 

After several passes around the block we finally spotted their unit crest and signage.  And there, tucked behind some bushes that were almost taller than the replacement cement statue stood what I would have to call (and did, after receiving a considerable amount of abuse from my family!) a “baby drag­on.”

   Thus began my 21-year quest.  Over the years I talked and exchanged e-mail with dozens of men ranking from Private to Major General and heard varying memo­ries and time frames of what had occurred.  They ranged everywhere from natural weather disasters to deterioration from age to conspiracy theories.  Nothing concrete.

   My duties with the 25th Infantry Division Association again carried me to Hawaii in 2003.  I visited the Active Duty 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry that was still stationed at Schofield Barracks and had my picture taken in front of still another repli­ca “baby dragon”.  (Picture Attached)  Nobody in the unit could shed any light on what had happened to the original.

   Work with the 25th Infantry Division Association Memorial Fund, Inc. enabled me to make several subsequent trips to Schofield Barracks and in 2007 1 had occa­sion to discuss the matter with Jerry McKinney, loyal 25th IDA member and Honorary Sergeant Major of the 27th Infantry “Wolfhounds”.  Jerry related a tale that I had previously heard glimmers of, but had discarded because it seemed so unbelievable. 

He categorically stated that a group of Wolfhounds, in an act of retalia­tion for the death of their dog mascot, Kolchak, had destroyed the Golden Dragon statue after the 14th’s early departure for Vietnam.  It had been blown apart with a bunch of artillery simulators and the pieces tossed into the foliage along the steep slopes of the road running up to the his­toric Kole Kole Pass.
   Now that was a hard story to swallow, but nevertheless I filed it away in my mind.  I must also admit that Jerry’s delivery was so compelling that, before I departed Oahu, I drove up to the summit at Kole Kole and walked around a bit on the trails to see if I could miraculously spot any obvious spoon wreckage after 41 years!  No chance.

   Meanwhile, other aging Golden Dragons were remembering that statue and wondering about its legendary disappear­ance.  The subject came up around the 14th Infantry table in the Hospitality Room at the 2008 25th IDA Reunion in Orlando, Florida in August and I finally heard the facts from the 14th Infantry side that cor­roborated what I had heard from the Wolfhounds.  They were provided by IN Marthers, Daniel T., SFC who in late 1965 was a sharp young Golden Dragon serving as CQ (Charge of Quarters) Orderly as the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry served Guard Mount one weekend just prior to deployment.

The principle character in the story Dan unfolded was named Clarence Casto, a good soldier with more years of service than many of his counterparts.  Most Army units have similar cases; a person who is a talented “field” soldier, but faces difficulty when faced with the temptations (primarily alcohol related) of “garrison” life.  As Marthers related, Alpha Company’s Casto had been promoted to Sergeant more times than anyone else in Hawaii. 

Because Marthers was only 17 and too young to be served alcohol, at one point, as a preventa­tive measure, the Company Commander had ordered him to stay with Casto on pass in downtown Honolulu.  This didn’t hap­pen on the night in question because only one of them had Guard Duty.

   In the wee hours of the morning Casto was brought to the Guard Post, probably by some MP’s, in an extremely inebriated and agitated state.  He had been found stag­gering around Post, so the MP’s returned him to his unit.  Marthers was present as Casto was logged in and interviewed by the Officer of the Guard. 

The drunken soldier was actually crying about how he had “killed my best little drinking buddy.”  It took a while, but further questioning revealed he had shared his whiskey by pour­ing some into the drinking bowl of the Wolfhound’s mascot in the adjoining Quad.  It had apparently involved enough of a quantity to make the young Kolchak sick enough to die. 

Retribution followed as explained above by the Wolfhounds and the legend began.

   As a footnote, the dog Kolchak’s replacement accompanied the 27th Infantry (Wolfhounds) to Cu Chi, Vietnam in 1966. 

SGT Clarence Casto was reduced in rank once again and accompanied Company A, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, 3rd Brigade Task Force, 25th Infantry Division to Pleiku, Vietnam.  He was among 14 men from “Alpha Army” killed in action on November 13, 1966 and at the time had regained the rank of SSG (E-6) and was Acting Platoon SGT.
Copyright Inc 2003-2011