2017-11-09 / Community News

Service of Saco native detailed

Thomas Casamassa Thomas Casamassa A 2003 Thorton Academy High School graduate and Saco native is serving aboard the World War II namesake warship, USS Spruance.

Lt. j.g. Thomas Casamassa is a surface warfare officer aboard the San Diego based ship, a guided missile destroyer.

As a surface warfare officer, Casamassa is in charge of the air and missile defense radar sweep system. More than 300 sailors serve aboard the ship, and their jobs are highly specialized, requiring both dedication and skill. The jobs range from maintaining engines to handling weaponry along with a multitude of other assignments that keep the ship mission ready at all times, according to Navy officials.

Casamassa has carried lessons learned from his hometown into his military service.

“I grew up in a fishing community and there was a lot of hard working dedicated individuals that showed me the value of hard work to be successful,” he said. Destroyers are warships that provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities. They are about 510 feet long and can be armed with tomahawk landattack cruise missiles, variants of the SM missile family, advanced gun systems and close-in gun systems.

Destroyers are deployed globally and can operate independently, as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, or amphibious readiness groups.

Spruance is armed with long range missiles intended for air defense to counter threats to friendly forces posed by manned aircraft, anti-ship, cruise and ballistic missiles. It was commissioned in 2011 and named after Admiral Raymond A. Spruance. He was a key naval commander during World War II, leading U.S. naval forces during two of the most significant naval battles that took place in the Pacific Theatre: Battle of Midway and Battle of the Philippine Sea. He later served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines.

At Midway, Spruance scored the first major victory for the United States over Japan; generally considered to be the turning point of the war in the Pacific. “USS Spruance is responsible for 22 mission areas, with 350 people onboard each sailor actively supports multiple missions,” said Cmdr. Joshua Menzel, commanding officer of Spruance. “As a member of the Pacific Fleet, the crew of USS Spruance patrol the same waters and trains to perform the same missions as the sailors Admiral Spruance commanded during WWII.”

Casamassa has military ties with family members who have previously served and is honored to carry on the family tradition.

“It’s a family tradition, a call to service,” said Casamassa. “Everyone in my family has done military or civil service.” As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Casamassa and other Spruance sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.

“Serving in the Navy has meant everything to me because it’s been such a huge part of my life,” said Casamassa. “I see it as not only my profession but an extension of what my family can do to give back to the community.”

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