Paul Leo Casavant, 1923 – 2018
Chief Electrician’s Mate (EMC)(SS) United States Navy (retired)
Paul Casavant passed away September 1 after a valiant struggle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Paul was born August 1, 1923 in Baltic, Connecticut to Emile and Philomene (Biosuert) Casavant. Paul was one of eight children and a first generation American. The family moved from Baltic to Norwich Town(ship) to a small farm. As was the practice at the time Paul went to work in the cotton mill after two years of high school. At 18 he went to work at the Electric Boat Company in Groton, CT building submarines.
Twenty days after the attack on Pearl Harbor Paul enlisted in the Navy and volunteered for submarine duty as a “seaman deuce”. His first assignment was the Sub Base at Pearl Harbor and his first war patrol was on the USS Narwhal (SS 167). Paul served three runs on her and was then transferred to the USS Gabilon (SS 252) for six runs, totaling nine World War II patrols. In all, Paul served on eight different submarines, including two Cold War patrols.
Of special note is that his boat, the USS Tusk (SS 426) was on patrol with the USS Cochino (SS 345) in the Berents Sea, inside the Arctic Circle, on August 29, 1949 when the Cochino suffered massive explosions and fire. The Tusk crew saved the entire 70 man crew and 10 officers of the Cochino but at the cost of six of their own who were washed overboard in the 40 foot seas. Paul’s last patrol of the Cold War was with the USS Greyback (SSG 574) in the Bering Sea. Paul then served for three years on the staff of the Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet and four more years as a recruiter for his beloved US Navy.
Paul was recognized as a man of continual and effective dedication. His training included nuclear weapons and he was assigned to an aircraft carrier, the USS Shangri-la (CVA 38). Paul continued to wear his dolphins on his dress khakis, and this earned him a cup of coffee with the Executive Officer of the carrier, who also had not forgotten he was a submariner. Paul never gave up his EMC rate because he wanted to return to the submarines.
Paul also loved baseball. Even in the Navy he managed Navy baseball teams and probably collected some stories while serving as an umpire. After retiring from the Navy Paul worked 16 years for the City of Orlando Transportation Department and volunteered to umpire baseball for the Recreation Department.
Paul leaves a family that loved him deeply. He is survived by his wife Blanche, his son Derald Casavant, step grandson Steve (Shasta) Richards, and the large Ryan clan he inherited when he married Blanche: stepsons Terry (Dannie) Ryan and Tim (Linda) Ryan, stepdaughter Faith Ryan; six more step grandchildren Derek (Sara) Ryan, Erin (Juan Mallach) Ryan, Elizabeth (Christopher Hynes) Ryan, Casey (Jessie) Ryan, Matt (Mindy) Ryan, and Caitlin (Andre Dirzus) Ryan; and six great grandchildren, Declan, Rosa, Kellan, Jack, Evan and Claire. Also surviving Paul are nephews, nieces and cousins.
A Funeral Mass will be held at Church of Our Saviour on September 22, 2018 at 1:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests that donations be made in Paul’s name to the Disabled American Veterans, or to St. Mary’s Submarine Museum, St. Mary Georgia.