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Charles Ray Casto
Charles Ray Casto

Richard Eugene Casto

Richard Eugene Casto

West Virginia
Veterans Memorial

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Charles Ray Casto
1921-1941

Richard Eugene Casto
ca. 1922-1941

"One man with courage is a majority."

Thomas Jefferson

Charles Ray Casto was born in 1921 in Pennsylvania to his mother, Mary Alice Casto, and his father, David Gay (or Galice) Casto. Charles was the third of five children, the others being Oscar, Orville, Richard, and Eilene. His brother Richard Eugene Casto was born in East Liverpool, Ohio, in 1922 or 1923. The boys grew up in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. According to early records, their parents were both involved in the pottery business. David Casto was a saggermaker, whose job was to pound and mold clay for pottery. Mary Casto was a waredresser, whose job was to polish and dress the ware/pottery. (“Person Details for Charles Casto,” Family Search, accessed 11 June 2017, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XM4L-F9W.) Before World War II, pottery had grown into a large manufacturing industry in the state, specifically in places like Wheeling. By the time of the 1930 census, both boys were living with their parents in Chester, Hancock County, West Virginia, along with their three other siblings. (“Person Details for Richard Casto,” Family Search, accessed 11 June 2017, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XM4L-F94.)

According to state birth records, Mary Alice was born in 1896 in Pughtown, West Virginia, while David was born on September 14, 1893, in Jackson County, West Virginia. They would marry on the 12th of April in 1913 in New Cumberland, Hancock County, West Virginia. All four of their male children would contribute to the war effort. One of Charles and Richard’s brothers, Oscar Casto, would be a photographer for the Army Air Corps in Ohio, while the other brother, Orville, would serve in the U.S. Army.

Richard joined the U.S. Navy on November 29, 1940, enlisting from Cleveland, Ohio. By the time of his death on December 7, 1941, he had become a fireman second class and was part of the crew of the USS Oklahoma. Charles, slightly older, also served aboard the USS Oklahoma, having enlisted in 1939 and achieving the rank of fireman first class.

The USS Oklahoma first began its service during WWI, where it served as an escort for American ships. After the war, the ship was assigned to the Pacific, where it would visit places such as Samoa and Australia. Just before the U.S. entered World War II, the ship would sail to Spain to help evacuate refugees fleeing from the Spanish Civil War. The ship returned to Battleship Row at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and was docked there on December 7, 1941, “A date which will live in infamy.” During the attack, the battleship would be hit by upwards of eight torpedoes before finally sinking underneath the Pacific waves. (“USS Oklahoma,” Oklahoma Historical Society, accessed 11 June 2017, http://www.okhistory.org/kids/ussok2.php.)

Neither brother’s remains were ever identified, and they are listed among approximately 390 unknowns from the USS Oklahoma buried in mass graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii. The Chester post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars was named in honor of the two men.
Charles's cenotaphs
Richard's cenotaph

Cenotaphs at the Honolulu Memorial honor the Casto brothers.

All photos courtesy Debbie (Tetrault) and Bruce Almeida, Find A Grave.

Article prepared by Paul Gerstle, George Washington High School, Advanced Placement U. S. History
2017

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Charles Ray Casto Richard Eugene Casto

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.


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