LANDON CASILLAS / 1980-2006
Soldier dies before celebrating his first Father’s Day as a dad
The Hawaii native's wife says she does not know how he died
Hawaii-born soldier Landon Casillas would have taken his first professional family photo with his wife and 6-month-old daughter in matching blue-and-white outfits on Father's Day.
The 26-year-old Oahu-born pilot had a 6-month-old daughter
But the 26-year-old first lieutenant, who spent more than a quarter of his life on Oahu, died June 9 after his UH60 Blackhawk helicopter made an emergency landing in Clarksville, Tenn.
"The helicopter did not crash, so I am not sure how he died," Casillas' wife, Jessica, said.
The Army and his family, which declined to specify the details of the accident, said the cause was still under investigation.
"He was a very loving father, husband and son," said Casillas' father, retired Sgt. Richard Casillas, who served for 20 years in the military. He said he was going to miss his son's daily phone calls, which brightened his day. "He would never miss a day, and I really looked forward to that," he said.
Casillas' wife said she was going to miss the way he interacted with their daughter, Arle.
"He would always sing and dance with her to songs on the radio and change the words to match with baby issues," she said while Arle cooed in the background.
"My favorite? 'I'm too sexy for my diaper,'" she said with a laugh.
Casillas, who was an aero-medical evacuation officer assigned to the 50th Medical Company (Air Ambulance), was with part of a five-man crew on a routine local services mission when the helicopter he co-piloted landed at Outlaw Field.
"He loved being a pilot. He always had a fascination with helicopters and planes," his father said. "After the military, he planned to work with a federation and fly helicopters."
Casillas, who was approaching his second anniversary with the Army, arrived in Kentucky's Fort Campbell in October. As a member of the 159th Aviation Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, he garnered numerous awards, including an Army Service Ribbon, Air Assault Badge, Army Aviator Badge, Parachutist Badge and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Prior to serving in the army, Casillas was an active member of Texas Christian University's ROTC program and fraternity Pi Kappa Phi.
Casillas is survived by his wife; daughter; father; mother, MayLing; and sister, Shannon.
Visitation will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Greenwood Funeral Home in Fort Worth, Texas.
Funeral services will be held 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Robert Carr Chapel on TCU's campus.
Inurnment will be Thursday at Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to a memorial fund: 1st Lieutenant Casillas Memorial Fund for Infant Daughter Casillas: Bank of America (military bank), P.O. Box 528, Fort Campbell, KY 42223.