Green through and through, with a little gray on top
July 12, 2012
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska (July 6, 2012) -- They were just two young Soldiers who came from warmer climates and had similar interests. They liked being outdoors and loved to fish. It was a different time and a different Army. They did their hitch and then moved on, but decided to stay in Alaska.
In Fairbanks back in the 70s, there were no cell phones and if you lived in a cabin tucked in the woods, there were no telephone lines. The best means of communication - citizen band radios. We kept CB radios in our cabins. When I'd hear, "Breaker, breaker, this is the Tombstone Kid calling the High Plains Drifter," I knew Ray Castellaw was heading for the river.
Over the years, things change, but two old Soldiers keep on kicking.
Castellaw, Directorate of Logistics, motor vehicle operator supervisor, retired June 30 after 30 years of dedicated government service.
After graduating from Buena High School located just outside the gate of Fort Huachuca, Ariz., in 1973, Castellaw joined the United States Army. He went to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and completed advance infantry training at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in the Ordnance Corps. He went back to Fort Huachuca for two years and was then transferred to Fort Wainwright where he finished out his commitment to the Army.
He decided to stay here, "because I had a job (lined up)," Castellaw said, "but more importantly it was the general attitude of the Alaskan people and the hunting and fishing opportunities."
After leaving the Army he worked for the local school bus company for four years and in 1981 was hired as a temporary laborer "at the gym (on post)." Soon after that Castellaw accepted a permanent position at the installation maintenance facility as a mechanic helper and wrecker driver with the Directorate of Industrial Operations (now Directorate of Logistics).
"I later moved back to (transportation motor pool) as a driver, the same place I had worked as an (active-duty) Army driver and stayed there until 1992," he said. A reduction in force landed him in an "inspector's job." Six years later the supervisor position came available, he applied and said, "I've been there ever since."
Long-time friend and co-worker, Julie Van Houten said, "When I think of Ray, I think of dedication; Ray always says, 'If it wasn't for the Soldiers, we wouldn't be here and we should never forget that,' and he lives and works what he says." Many agree that Castellaw always kept mission first and Soldiers never lacked for care and compassion from him or his crew.
Although it's called retirement, Castellaw is not going to stop working. He and his family recently opened a restaurant in downtown Fairbanks. "Family is important to me," he said after the retirement ceremony, sharing the limelight with his wife Phyllis, daughter Tiffani, son-in-law Ray and grandchildren, Fabian and Angell.
His mother was a homemaker and his father a World War II veteran and life-long civil servant, giving Castellaw a solid foundation which he said has kept him grounded throughout his career.
"I have met many wonderful and exciting people over the years and experienced a countless number of life-changing events," he said. "I wouldn't change a thing about any of it and if I had to do it again I would do it exactly the same."
When asked, "Who is your favorite Public Affairs Specialist," he answered, "It is you my friend. It was you 36 years ago and it is still you today."
It just goes to show, the Army will give you an opportunity to develop friendships that last a lifetime and I was honored to be there when my friend left Army life for the second time.