Some people are just blessed and this would certainly include Commander Chris Cassidy of York, Maine. Commander Cassidy is an unobtrusive, easy going, humble young man who is headed into outer space as the world's second Navy SEAL to ever launch out of the Earth's atmosphere, following in the legendary footsteps of Capt. William Shepherd, who worked on the International Space Station in 1992. Commander Cassidy attributes his success to luck and chance and, as luck and chance would have it, Commander Cassidy is blessed with superior intellect, groundbreaking determination and masterful skills.
As Commander Cassidy, mission specialist for Space Transportation System 127 (STS-127) puts it, "The goals in my career really just seemed to sort of happen. You know, good coincidence, timing and luck kind of play a lot into it."
He is just as quick to thank the guides and mentors who helped him throughout the SEALS training program where Commander Cassidy attributes learning the importance of teamwork as being the basis for his success. He reminds us all, "There are so many opportunities that exist in the Navy … the biggest thing is: Do your job and do your job well. And, if you do that, the doors are going to open, open wide for you to all kinds of other opportunities."
Career And Education
Commander Cassidy graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics in 1993 and then went on to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado, Calif., where he received the Honors Graduate award. Following Captain Shepherd's example, Cassidy applied to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he earned his Masters Degree in ocean engineering in 2000. From there, Cassidy applied for NASA’s space program through the Bureau of Naval Personnel (BUPERS).
After his first assignment to the SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team Two (SDVT-2) in Little Creek, Virginia, Cassidy had a phone conversation with Captain Shepherd, now Head Science Advisor of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). According to Shepherd, Cassidy contacted him to in the '90s to discuss potentially becoming an astronaut. The rest, as they say, is history. Commander Cassidy was accepted into the space program in 2004.
Personality And Professionalism
Cassidy has served in the Navy SEALS for over 10 years where he has held such positions as executive officer and operations officer of Special Boat Team 20 in Norfolk and platoon commander at SEAL Team 3 in Coronado. Cassidy has served in the Mediterranean and deployed several times to Afghanistan where he was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and two Bronze Stars with Combat 'V' and a for missions with the Army's 10th Mountain Division on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. In addition, Cassidy was made an honorary member of the 10th Mountain Division by its soldiers, which is a rare and significant honor.
It is apparent that Commander Cassidy has the drive and determination to succeed in whatever he sets his mind to. His gentle humor and dedication to family and country only endear him to us even more. According to Holly Ridings, a 10-year NASA veteran and the Lead Flight Director for STS-127, "I’m always impressed with Chris’s utter calm. Nothing fazes him. It’s that whole focused Navy SEAL thing."
As humankind spend more and more time in space, the demand for individuals such as Commander Cassidy will only increase. Let us pray that we are blessed with many more like him.