Bristol police officer launches fundraiser to help family of Army pilot killed in crashBy JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent April 12. 2018 8:02PM
BRISTOL — Although he never met James Casadona, a Bristol police officer has begun a fundraising campaign to help the family of the 2008 graduate of the New Hampton School who was one of two Army aviators killed a week ago today in a helicopter crash at Fort Campbell.
Started on April 10, Sgt. Aaron Chapple’s Go Fund Me page, https://www.gofundme.com/army-cwo-casadona-memorial, as of Thursday evening had recorded 43 donations totaling $4,830, which easily exceeded the goal of $2,000. The money will be made available to Casadona’s family for funeral and related expenses.
A warrant officer and pilot with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division’s Wings of Destiny Combat Aviation Brigade, Casadona, 28, and Chief Warrant Officer Ryan Connolly, 37, died when their AH-64E Apache went down during a training exercise on April 6.
A memorial service for the men was held at Fort Campbell on Thursday.
Following Casadona’s death, Chapple got a call from Dan Crim, a retired Marine Corps master sergeant from Manchester, who was not only among Chapple’s dearest friends, but is also Casadona’s uncle; Crim’s wife and Casadona’s mom are sisters.
“When this happened, Dan called me and I suggested that they might want to start some fundraising for travel expenses,” Chapple explained. “We wanted to make sure there was a fund that the family could pull from and that helps them with any expenses that the military did not pay for.”
Although Chapple didn’t know Casadona personally, he knew much about him, most from Crim.
“Dan’s been bragging about Jimmy’s accomplishments for most of the 13 years I’ve known Dan,” said Chapple, including about Casadona’s goal of serving in the military.
Crim called Chapple, who is also a Marine, “an awesome individual whose heart is in the right place” and someone whose generosity is greatly appreciated.
As to his nephew, Crim described him more succinctly: “Jimmy was a patriot. Period.”
Although he was born in New Jersey, Casadona grew up in the Lakes Region, said Crim, “and his heart was in New Hampshire” which he visited often and where family members and many friends still live.
After graduating from NHS, Casadona attended the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Western Michigan University, said Crim, and in 2012, enlisted in the Marine Corps, in which he served for five years. Casadona later applied to and was accepted in the Army’s warrant officer program.
Crim said everyone misses Casadona and is grieving his death.
“This was a guy who was admired by everybody,” he said.