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Focus on Service

Focus on Service: EA1(SCW) Keith Casey

A Seabee stationed at Fort Leonard Wood reflects on his first duty station at Washington DC days after 9/11.

Almost everyone remembers where they were when 9/11 happened. Engineering Aid 1st Class (SCW) Keith Casey was an A-school student learning to be a Seabee at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, when he saw the towers go down.

I will never forget one of the NMTs or naval military trainers looked over at me and went: 'You got orders to DC, didn't you Casey?' I was like, you know what, I sure did. Good luck."
-EA1 Keith Casey

A few weeks after his Engineering Aide graduation and 9/11, Casey arrived with his family at Construction Battalion Unit 422 at then Naval Support Facility Anacostia, Washington DC.

"It made me think, wow, it really put it to the forefront what I had committed myself to," Casey said. "I joined in peace time. There was trouble in the horizon but nothing major. That moment was when I realize this was real time and I was about to step into it."

Casey said when they arrived at the NSF Anacostia gate, the base was erecting a security tower.

"It was tense, it was really tense, " Casey said. "I'll never forget. As you see this tower getting build, you see this machine gun on top of it; it was surreal. That really put it home to what was going on and how the world had really change."

Luckily for Casey, he received a lot of mentorship from his first command.

"I got there and there were a lot of crusty old firsts, a lot of folks who have been in the Navy 17-18 years," Casey said. "And there was a wealth of experience there. I will say that a lot of those folks helped shape my career and the path I was going to take. I'll never forget them. They made a big impact on me."

Fourteen years later, Casey found himself back in Fort Leonard Wood. this time as an instructor at Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering imparting his own wisdom and expertise to future Seabee engineering aide students.

"If there's one thing I've learned in the Navy it is to make sure you know what's going on," Casey said. "Make sure you understand the environment that you're in, what you're about to step in because when you're not prepared that's the thing that will get you caught off guard. It's just common sense. Those are the things we try to impart on my students."