July 1, 2008

Marine Lt. Gen. Castellaw retires

Crockett County native served more than 38 in the military


Crockett County's courthouse resembled a major military installation Monday, as U.S. servicemen, politicians, area first responders and residents honored the lifelong military service of Marine Lt. Gen. John "Glad" Castellaw.

A Crockett County native, Castellaw retired Monday after more than 38 years of military service - 36 of those on active duty.

"I was born in that hospital over there," said Castellaw, pointing across Bell Street before the ceremony. "It's great to be back home."

Home for Castellaw was the Crockett Mills area. Alamo native Bruce Coluett played baseball against Castellaw when the two were in high school.

"We are long-time acquaintances," Coluett said. "I am very proud of his service to his country and his achievements in Iraq."

Castellaw became deputy commander, U.S. Marine Forces Central Command serving in Tampa, Fla., and Bahrain, Iraq, after the terrorist attacks on Sept.11, 2001.

While there, he helped plan the first offensive operations in Southwest Asia.

Castellaw arrived at his retirement ceremony in a restored 1942 military command car. Standing near a Marine Corps flag, he defended the country's position in Iraq while honoring those he commanded.

"The progress we have made there has been incredible," Castellaw said. "We have asked our men and women to do a job, and they have done it. What we need to do now is continue the success we have had there."

A three-star general, Castellaw began his military career in 1972 after graduating from the University of Tennessee-Martin. His first duty was as an officer in the

Marine amphibian tractor, tank and infantry units in Okinawa, Japan and California. He became a helicopter pilot in 1976, and was later instrumental in helping bring the MV-22 Osprey into military use. The Osprey is a vertical/short takeoff and landing aircraft. Its propellers tilt to the position of an airplane or helicopter.

Castellaw was promoted to colonel in 1994 and was given the position of commanding officer of Marine Weapons and Tactics Squadron One. Ten years later, he became chief of staff for American military operations, overseeing 250,000 servicemen and women in 27 countries.

On Monday, Alamo's National Guard Armory was named in his honor.

Donna Fitzgerald said she came to Alamo from Hardin County to honor Castellaw and other past and present U.S. service personnel. She had previously heard Castellaw speak.

"We respect the men who have served this country," she said. "My father did it in World War II, and we wanted to show respect."

Castellaw's final position with the Marines was deputy commandant for Programs and Resources. The department is responsible for the Marine Corps' financial requirements, policies and programs.

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- Ned Hunter, 425-9641