The CIA Book of Honor — Star 85 : Stephen Kasarda (c. 1930 – May 1 1960)

“IN HONOR OF THOSE MEMBERS OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY”

Memorial at the CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia

“For the men and women of CIA, this constellation is more than a memorial, more than a quiet tribute. Each star holds memories of a brave intelligence officer whose example we follow, a treasured colleague whose wisdom we keep, or a lost friend whose laughter we miss. Time does not soothe the pain that accompanies thoughts of what might have been. But we can take comfort in knowing what is: The men and women behind these stars lived nobly, served selflessly, and died honorably. They inspire us all. Our nation owes them a tremendous debt of gratitude. We will repay it by living the values they demonstrated so clearly: Loyalty, integrity, excellence and service—these are the things that must guide our work. And then, we will be worthy of their sacrifice.”

General Mike Hayden — Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2007 CIA Memorial Ceremony)

July 29 2019 — Currently, there are 133 stars carved into the marble of the CIA Memorial Wall: 93 are unclassified. Who are those men and women? When did they die? Why are they honored by a star? Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

RELATED POST: The CIA Book of Honor — Star 78 : Tucker Gougelmann

RELATED POST: The CIA Book of Honor — Star 79 : Johnny Micheal Spann

RELATED POST: The CIA Book of Honor — Star 80 : Helge Philipp Boes

RELATED POST: The CIA Book of Honor — Star 81 : Gregg Wenzel

RELATED POST: The CIA Book of Honor — Stars 82 & 83 : Christopher Glenn Mueller and William “Chief” Carlson

RELATED POST: The CIA Book of Honor — Star 84 : James McGrath (October 24, 1927 – January 1957)

RELATED POST: CIA Honors its Fallen in Annual Memorial Ceremony [May 21 2019]

RELATED POST: CIA Memorial Wall — The Mysterious Star : Ranya Abdelsayed (April 28 1979 – August 28 2013)

In 1974,  the CIA dedicated the Memorial Wall with 31 stars in 1974 to honor those who had fallen since the Agency’s founding in 1947.

Since the attacks of September 11 2001, 55 stars have been added to the Book of Honor and the Memorial Wall.

During the 2007 CIA Memorial Ceremony,  four stars were added to the Wall.

Why This Series?

Ted Gup is the author of the bestseller The Book of Honor, winner of the Investigative Reporters and Editors Book-of- the-Year Award.

The book is a very good source of information. Its Amazon page reads:

A national bestseller, this extraordinary work of investigative reporting uncovers the identities, and the remarkable stories, of the CIA secret agents who died anonymously in the service of their country.

In the entrance of the CIA headquarters looms a huge marble wall into which seventy-one stars are carved-each representing an agent who has died in the line of duty. Official CIA records only name thirty-five of them, however.

Undeterred by claims that revealing the identities of these “nameless stars” might compromise national security, Ted Gup sorted through thousands of documents and interviewed over 400 CIA officers in his attempt to bring their long-hidden stories to light.

The result of this extraordinary work of investigation is a surprising glimpse at the real lives of secret agents, and an unprecedented history of the most compelling—and controversial—department of the US government.

However, the book was published in May 2001, and the number of stars on the CIA wall has almost doubled since then.

Many of these additional stars are nameless. But even the named ones have not been the object of a systematic study, let alone a book.

Please, keep in mind that if the US Congress decides to pass the new version of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA), Gup’s book would have been illegal.

RELATED POST: Los Angeles Times : “Congress is rushing to make the CIA less accountable”

On May 20 2019, the Washington Post revealed the name of Ranya Abdelsayed (04/28/1979) who joined the CIA in 2006.

On August 28 2013, while serving in Afghanistan, she committed suicide. Again, such disclosure will no longer be possible if the expanded version of the IIPA is passed.

RELATED POST: CIA Memorial Wall — The Mysterious Star : Ranya Abdelsayed (April 28 1979 – August 28 2013)

This being said, we now return to the subject of this post: CIA star 85.

The 2007 CIA Memorial Ceremony

These stars honor James McGrath, Stephen Kasarda, Gregory R. Wright and Rachel Dean.

Comment 1 —  You will notice that no ceremonies were held in 2005 and 2006. Why? I do not know the answer, but obviously, Porter Johnston Goss was the last Director of Central Intelligence (DCI — September 24, 2004 – April 21, 2005) and the first Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (April 21, 2005 – May 5, 2006) following the passage of the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which abolished the DCI position and replaced it with the Director of National Intelligence on April 21, 2005.

Comment 2 — Although the name of Gregory R. Wright was not made public at the time of the ceremony, it was eventually disclosed. However, the CA has posted contradictory pieces of information regarding his star. I will discuss this issue in a following post.

Comment 3 — When the CIA honor several officers with a star during the same ceremony, I have no way of knowing the star number of a given individual. However, according to the CIA, Rachel Dean is star 87. I will therefore assume that — in such case — the stars are ranked according to the year of death.

Star  85 : Stephen Kasarda (c. 1930 – May 1 1960)

Stephen Kasarda, Jr. was a communications officer who worked for the CIA in the early days of the Cold War.

He was killed on May 1, 1960, while on temporary duty in Southeast Asia in support of an Agency air supply mission to Tibet.

Kasarda received a star on the CIA Memorial Wall and his name was unveiled and added to the Book of Honor in 2007.

Steve Kasarda, nicknamed “Gip,” was born in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, the only son of an Austrian immigrant who married a local girl and made a modest living as a riveter.

He graduated from McKees Rocks High School in 1946 after a spectacular high school sports career playing football, basketball, and baseball. He also enjoyed tennis and played the clarinet in the school band.

Steve joined the Navy after high school in 1946 and served in the Submarine Service until his honorable discharge in May 1950.

He was recalled to the Navy during the Korean War and served again, honorably, from January 1951 until his discharge in November 1952. Between his tours of duty with the Navy and following his discharge, Steve worked for the American Bridge Company in various capacities, including as a reamer and fitter’s helper.

Steve’s military service gave him the right skills and background to succeed in intelligence work. He applied to the CIA in 1954 and entered on duty in January 1955 as a communications officer.

Life at CIA:

In his five years with the CIA, Steve had only tough assignments, first in the Middle East and then in Asia. He earned a reputation for hard work and initiative, and in April 1960, at age 30, he was tapped for temporary duty at one of our most sensitive sites.

His job was to support the Agency’s air supply mission to Tibet. He and another officer would live and work in a small communications facility at a remote airfield in Southeast Asia.

From there, they would communicate with aircraft supplying the Tibetans, and stand ready to support emergency landings in case of trouble.

His Final Mission:

Only two weeks after arriving at the site, Steve died in a tragic accident. In 105-degree heat, he stripped down to shoes and shorts and scaled the commo building’s steep metal roof to scout sites for new antennas.

What he could not have known—no one did—was that the roof carried a lethal current from an improperly grounded wire. It took his life moments later.

Stephen Kasarda, Jr. was 30 years old when he died. His wife, two sisters, and his mother survived him. [CIA website]

TIMELINE

July 1974 — The Memorial Wall is created; 31 stars chiseled into the marble.

1987 —  First Memorial Ceremony is held with Deputy Director Robert M. Gates presiding;  number of stars on the wall has grown to 50.

1997 — 70 stars, 29 of which had names

2002 — 79 stars

2004 — 83  stars

2009 — 90  stars

2013 — 107  stars

2014 — 111  stars

2016 — 117  stars

May 2017 — 8 new stars; 125 stars chiseled into the wall

May 2018 — 4 new stars; 129 stars

May 2019 — 4 new stars; 133 stars

REFERENCES

Remembering CIA’s Heroes: Stephen Kasarda — CIA Website

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The CIA Book of Honor — Stars  84 : James McGrath (October 24, 1927 – January 1957)

The CIA Book of Honor — Star 85 : Stephen Kasarda (c. 1930 – May 1 1960)

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