VMI alum identified as one of five killed in California helicopter crash

SAN DIEGO, Ca. – A Virginia Military Institute alum was identified Friday as one of five Marines killed during a helicopter crash during a training flight in San Diego, California.

Capt. Jack Casey, a 2019 graduate, was one of the five Marines assigned to the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

10 News spoke with Deputy Commandant at VMI, Col. Kevin Faust who worked closely with Casey during his time at VMI.

“He was very well respected. Not only respected but liked and appreciated,” said Col. Faust.

During his time at VMI, Casey was one of the highest-ranking cadets in his junior year, serving as First Sergeant.

He also served as Company I Commander during his senior year.

“He had no ego with, it didn’t matter if he was working with the third-classmen, the rats or the first-classmen he treated everyone with respect and with good humor. So that carries a lot of weight in the corps,” said Faust.

In a Facebook post, VMI shared that Casey was a physics major from Dover, New Hampshire, and was Company I commander for the 2018-19 academic year.

“It is difficult to find words in the wake of such a jarring loss,” said Capt. Eli Facemire ‘19, VMI associate chaplain and class president of the VMI Class of 2019. “Jack was absolutely loved by our class, and all our brother rats knew that Jack loved them. He bought in fully to his relationships and opportunities, setting an example of friendship and leadership that was looked up to not only by members of the lower classes but also by his brother Rats. His charisma and humility shined through in all he did, and his infectious, fun-loving attitude made him a tremendous joy to simply be around. He made a positive impact on all, and we will cherish our memories of him forever. We, as a class, mourn with his loved ones and those brother rats who knew him best. Times like these are when the ‘brother rat spirit’ that Jack epitomized must be rekindled and embraced.”

On Thursday, the military confirmed that the Marines were killed when their helicopter went down during stormy weather. Efforts are underway to recover their remains, but officials say the process could take weeks.

VMI plans to hold a memorial in honor of Casey with the playing of taps in the barracks on Tuesday night.

Tuesday also marks the anniversary of the night Casey’s class graduated from being rats, called “breakout.”

“I work with a lot of cadets in a lot of capacities and he really was a beloved, really respected, good guy,” said Col. Faust.

A GoFundMe has been set up in support of Captain Jack Casey’s family. If you’d like to donate, you can do so here.


About the Authors:

Lauren Helkowski joined WSLS 10’s digital team in August 2022, but has held a passion for storytelling long before.

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.