Casserly, Thomas Francis, III, 1st Lt

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
First Lieutenant
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 1055-Pilot, Single-Engine Fighter
Last AFSC Group
Pilot (Officer)
Primary Unit
1952-1952, 35th Fighter Group
Service Years
1950 - 1952
Officer Collar Insignia
First Lieutenant

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
New Jersey
New Jersey
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Sgt Stephen Willcox-Deceased to remember Casserly, Thomas Francis, III, 1st Lt.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Last Address
South Korea

Casualty Date
Oct 01, 1952
Non Hostile- Died Other Causes
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Korea, South
Korean War
Location of Interment
U.S. Military Academy West Point Post Cemetery - West Point, New York
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Section VII, Site 312

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
Korean War Fallen
  2014, Korean War Fallen

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

Pilot Badge

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
18th Fighter-Bomber Group39th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing35th Fighter Group
  1952-1952, 18th Fighter-Bomber Group
  1952-1952, 39th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
  1952-1952, 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing
  1952-1952, 39th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
  1952-1952, 35th Fighter Group
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1950-1952 Korean War
 Colleges Attended 
United States Military Academy
  1946-1950, United States Military Academy
 My Aircraft/Missiles
P-51/F-51 Mustang  F-86 Sabre  
  1951-1952, P-51/F-51 Mustang
  1952-1952, F-86 Sabre
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
"USMA Class of 1950, First Lieutenant Casserly was the pilot of a F-86E Sabrejet fighter bomber with the 39th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 35th Fighter-Interceptor Group. On October 1, 1952, while returning from a combat mission, his controls malfunction and he crashed 1,000 feet short of the runway...Source: American Battle Monuments Commission, The Korean War Honor Roll,

Aircraft Type: F-86E, Tail Number: 50-626, Crewmembers Associated With This Loss: Casserly, III, Thomas F 1Lt USAF RCV, Circumstances of Loss: Completed combat training mission over North Korea, controls malfunctioned while landing, crashed 1,000 ft short of runway at Suwon AB." Source: Korwald Loss Incident Summary,

1st Lt Casserly was buried at the U.S. Military Academy Post Cemetery, West Point, Orange County, New York. Source:

Note: The official accident report found "the primary cause of Tom Casserly's accident to be 'Errors of Air Crew, Improper Use of Flight Controls in Air'."  A secondary factor was "Materiel Failure - Air Frame Flight Control System." The board, however recommended "that Flying Safety publications describe the accident for all pilots and instruct them, before landing with trim failure, to first simulate a landing at safe altitude." Although an Engineering Officer's Report blamed the pilot, he recommended "reducing the control stick's 'artificial feel system' resistance so 'a pilot may overpower a run-away trim with somewhat less force...(than) the strength of both hands..."  "No wonder Tom crashed! He wasn't able to use 'both hands' to hold the stick. He held the control stick with his right hand, but needed his left hand to adjust throttle, gear, and flaps. It should have been obvious to F-86E designers that a pilot needed to be able to overcome run-away forward trim with his right hand alone...."Soon the F-86E design error was corrected and there were no more such accidents." Source: "Tragic Day at K-13" by Kenneth l. Moll, May-June 2007, Official Publication of the Korean War Veterans Association,

Thomas Francis Casserly, III was born in Englewood, New Jersey. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Casserly, Jr. He married August 9, 1951 in South Orange, New Jersey and was deployed to the Korea in January of 1952.

"Silver Star
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant Thomas F. Casserly, United States Air Force, for gallantry in action agains an enemy of the United Nations as a Flight Leader of three F-51 type aircraft, 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing, FIFTH Air Force, while engaged in a search mission for a mission B-26 aircraft near the Chinanypo Estuary on 5 April 1952. Flying at low altitude and at a very low airspeed necessitated by the nature of the mission, the three aircraft sustained hits from intense and heavy automatic weapons fire. The number three aircraft was completely disabled and the pilot bailed out. Lieutenant Casserly immediately alerted rescue facilities and began firing passes on various gun positions and enemy troops who were trying to reach the downed pilot. Though his aircraft was hit twice and was not developing full power, and despite heavy ground fire, Lieutenant Casserly continued to press his attacks against the enemy. Lieutenant Casserly's strafing attacks kept the enemy troop clear of the downed pilot and reduced the heavy ground fire, enabling a helicopter to effect the rescue. By his heroic actions in desregarding his own personal safety to save a fellow pilot from certain capture, Lieutenant Casserly reflected great credit upon himself, the Far East Air Forces, and the United States Air Force." Source:

Note: On March 3, 1952, in F-51 # 44-12727, then 2nd Lt Casserly bellied in on a mud flat to attempt to rescue another pilot, another West Point classmate, who had bailed out over water. He elected to crash-land on a nearby sandbar so he could reach the downed pilot. Rescue efforts unfortunately could not locate the downed pilot, but Lt. Casserly was picked up by a helicopter. The investigating officer commended his heroic effort.
Sources: and
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