SSgt Casey J. Crate "Our Fallen Hero" 6/5/78 - 5/30/05 On May 30, 2005 near the village of Jalula, Iraq, our beloved Casey was taken from us in the crash of an A.F. Comp Air 7SL aircraft. He, 3 other Special Ops and 1 Iraqi were on a mission out of Kirkuk Air Base near Baghdad. Casey graduated from Spanaway Lake H.S. in 1996. He attended Pierce College for 2 years before joining the Air Force in 1998. He specialized in Avionics for 4 years before cross-training into Special Forces. After 2 years of training in Spec. Ops, he was assigned to the 23rd Tactics Squadron at Hurlbert Field near Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. He was a Combat Controller (CCT). Casey played many sports while growing up in Spanaway. He especially liked his Tae Kwon Do training in which he earned a black belt. He enjoyed many years at Ohop Lake, swimming, water skiing and just having fun with friends and family at a family cabin. During his school years, to pay for car insurance, Casey worked for his father Rocky (he got the dirty work), Stock Market Grocers, and the BX at McChord. He will always be remembered for his infectious smile and good nature. "He was a very loving and caring son" says his mother. He related to her age group as well as his own. He was highly respected by his family, friends and "buddies" for his tenacity and dedication to his chosen field of work. "He loved what he did." Casey was preceded in death by his father, Dr. Arthur "Rocky" Crate, grandparents Art and Mable Crate, and grandfather Robert Rukke. He is survived by his mother Linda, grandmother Zelda Rukke, aunt Shari Aksamitowshi, uncles Bob (Gail) Rukke, Scott (Janette) Rukke, great aunts, uncles, many loving cousins whom he loved dearly; special friends Lori Toscano and Joey Rios, and goddaughter Alana Rios. Casey loved his military "buddies" who will remain lifelong friends and beyond. His mother said, "I have had calls from here to Iraq from his commanders saying 'what a pleasure it was to serve with him, he lifted everyone's spirits. We called him "The Mission Hound" as he always wanted to go out on the mission!'" He will be deeply missed by all. A military service will be held 11:00 A.M. Saturday, June 25, 2005 at Rainier View Christian Church, 12305 Spanaway Loop Rd S, Tacoma. Interment at Bethany Lutheran Cemetery, 26418 Mt. Hwy, Spanaway. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Casey's name to B.E.S.T. (Bethel Educational Scholarship Team), P.O. Box 742, Graham, WA 98338 or Special Operation Warrior Foundation. For information on this fund please call toll free 1-877-337-7693. Fir Lane Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.
Published in News Tribune (Tacoma) from June 19 to June 21, 2005