[Congressional Record Volume 156, Number 40 (Thursday, March 18, 2010)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E414]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                   TRIBUTE TO THOMAS J. CASSIDY, JR.


                     HON. HOWARD P. ``BUCK'' McKEON

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, March 18, 2010

  Mr. McKEON. Madam Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a man who 
has given his life's work over in service to his country. A man who has 
honorably served the United States, both in uniform and out, in both 
the public and the private sectors, and who in my mind exemplifies duty 
and excellence. A man who is now taking a long deferred and well 
deserved retirement. Madam Speaker, Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr. has come a 
long way from his days growing up in the Bronx. He served in the Navy, 
rising to the rank of Rear Admiral. During his career, he served 34 
years, seeing action in the Vietnam War as the Commander of Fighter 
Squadron 161 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea. He later took 
command of Miramar Naval Air Station, as well as command of the Pacific 
Fleet Fighter and Airborne Early Warning Wing.
  During all this time, Admiral Tom Cassidy developed a reputation as a 
thorough and fully dedicated Naval Officer, that Bronx upbringing never 
being too far below the surface. He pushed himself to the limit, 
gaining extensive experience flying a wide variety of American and 
foreign aircraft. In fact, he developed air-to-air improved fighter 
tactics that the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force fighter pilots used to 
dramatically improve the kill ratio over the North Vietnamese Air Force 
MiGs. He did this by flying the MiG 21 and 17 to exploit their 
weaknesses. This in turn led to a number of staff jobs from a carrier 
group to a stint with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  With a reputation as a man with an eye for detail and a no nonsense 
approach to getting the job done, Admiral Cassidy was made the Chief of 
Naval Operations', CNO, liaison officer to the Chairman of the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff, and was Director of the Tactical Readiness Division of 
the CNO's staff.
  Madam Speaker, a resume like this speaks volumes, and would lead you 
to believe that Admiral Tom Cassidy had more than done his bit for 
``king and country.'' No one could dispute that Tom had served the 
American people well and that he had earned a place in the esteem of 
his countrymen. And so after a long and distinguished career, Tom 
retired from the Navy.
  However, while Admiral Cassidy may have left the Navy, in a very real 
sense the Navy never left him. Devotion to duty and hard work. A 
commitment to excellence and a ``can-do' spirit. Love of family, God 
and country. Valor in the face of danger and hardship, and most of all, 
a firm and unswerving loyalty to his men. All these qualities that we 
so instantly and rightly attribute to the men and women of the Navy, 
and not just the Navy but all the Armed Forces, were deeply engrained 
in Admiral Cassidy.
  It was that Navy spirit that Tom took with him into the private 
sector, where he accepted a position as CEO of General Atomics 
Aeronautical Systems, and where he has become a pioneer in the 
development of some of the most important and revolutionary weapons in 
America's arsenal for the war on terrorism.
  Madam Speaker, Admiral Tom Cassidy made the Predator Unmanned Aerial 
Vehicle. Were it not for Tom, after September 11 the United States 
would not have had in its armory one of the key weapons with which we 
began the long hard fight to free Afghanistan, Iraq, the Swat valley 
and so many other parts of the Middle East and Central and South Asia.
  At a time when there were grave doubts in the Armed Forces and the 
Department of Defense about the efficacy and necessity of UAVs like the 
Predator, Admiral Cassidy took a gamble. Operating by what Aviation 
Week magazine has rightly referred to as the ``build it and they will 
come'' strategy--Tom Cassidy pushed the development and building of 
Predators ahead of orders from the United States Government.
  Consequently, Madam Speaker, when on that terrible day in September 
of 2001, Americans came face to face with the unrelenting hatred and 
resourcefulness of our radical Islamist opponents, we can thank Admiral 
Tom Cassidy that the United States was able to have at the ready one of 
the critical weapons systems with which we have been able to bring the 
war to our enemies and to drive them out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
  It is a weapon that, Madam Speaker, continues to serve us well today. 
The Predator has gone through no less than three developmental 
iterations thanks to the hard work of Tom Cassidy. Each new evolution 
in the Predator has radically improved our ability to strike against 
the shadowy adversary that we now face.
  The Predator, Madam Speaker, will soon have attained over a million 
cumulative flight hours. How many of the enemy has it taken out? How 
many lives of our service men and women have been saved by the use of 
the Predator? How many terrorist attacks against the United States and 
our allies have been averted thanks to the unique surveillance and 
offensive weapons capabilities of the Predator? How many people have a 
chance at freedom because the Predator was able to strike against those 
who preach a savage perversion of a religion?
  There is probably no real way to count it accurately. Still, we know 
that lives have been saved and terrorist attacks have been averted and 
people who were once enslaved are now free because Predator was in 
America's arsenal. For that, Madam Speaker, this Congress and this 
country and people the world over owe Admiral Tom Cassidy a debt of 
gratitude of which they are scarcely aware. That is why I am privileged 
to be able to say these few words of thanks.
  So Madam Speaker, Tom Cassidy will retire now. He will end the long 
days of hard work and get to spend time with the wife and family that 
he loves, secure in the knowledge that he has done all that could 
reasonably be asked of one man to protect his country from those who 
threaten it.
  Madam Speaker, I am sure that nothing would please Tom Cassidy more 
than to know that his work has helped our nation face many of the most 
challenging threats to our security. I am convinced that the strength 
of character, dedication to duty and love of family and of country that 
are the hallmarks of Admiral Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr.'s life will long 
endure. I congratulate him on a job well done that has spanned both 
careers, the U.S. Navy and his tenure as the head of General Atomics 
Aeronautical Systems. On behalf of the American people I thank him, and 
I wish him many happy years ahead.