Left: Maj. Gen. Brian J. Mennes, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, welcomes Joseph Butler as the new Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (CASA) and thanked Anthony Keating for nearly 25 years of service as the outgoing CASA during a ceremony Jan. 24 at the Commons. Right: Anthony Keating thanks those who attended the event – and all those general officers who commanded here, the Soldiers and family members – for making this an experience of a lifetime. (Photos by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)
Fort Drum officials welcome new CASA, bid farewell to long-serving advocate
Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Jan. 27, 2020) – Fort Drum and North Country officials welcomed Joseph Butler Jr. as the new Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (CASA) and thanked F. Anthony Keating for nearly 25 years of service as the outgoing CASA during a transition ceremony Jan. 24 at the Commons.
As CASA for northern New York, Butler will advise the secretary of the Army about issues pertaining to the region and promote good relations between the U.S. Army and the public.
Butler’s presence at Fort Drum is not unfamiliar, having served as Watertown mayor from 2016 to 2019 and, before that, two terms on the Watertown City Council. Butler, who has worked for Community Bank Wealth Management since 1997, was appointed as CASA during an investiture ceremony Jan. 14 at the Pentagon.
“It’s a privilege and an honor to be named as a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army,” Butler said. “This vital role – to maintain a strong relationship between the military and the civilian population – it’s particularly meaningful and rewarding for me.”
Butler said that it is a privilege to succeed Keating, who possessed all of the attributes that made him an indispensable civil-military liaison.
“If there was a Hall of Fame of civilian aides, Tony would be inducted in the first round – no question,” he said. “His professionalism, his integrity, his wisdom, his kindness, his humility, his compassion are unsurpassed.”
During his time as CASA, Keating attended hundreds of observances, remembrance ceremonies, change of commands ceremonies and deployments. His leadership helped guide the installation and community through the establishment of brigade combat teams, Base Realignment and Closure processes, and massive construction projects that modernized Fort Drum.
Knowing that his retirement was imminent, Keating preferred to politely decline any formal acknowledgements of his service as CASA. Maj. Gen. Brian J. Mennes, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, asked for his thoughts about an appropriate ceremony.
Borrowing from Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s farewell address, Keating said that old Soldiers “simply fade away.”
“My initial response was probably we should just forget about it,” Keating recalled. “(Maj.) Gen. Mennes wasn’t very happy with that response.”
Despite his reluctance, Keating said he was grateful for the ceremony and the opportunity to share it with his family, friends and many of the colleagues he worked with as CASA.
“I’ve called it the best job in the Army that nobody has ever heard of,” he said.
Keating, a nine-year Army veteran, certainly had never heard of it until a North Country neighbor was appointed to the position. He said that John B. Johnson, former editor and publisher of the Watertown Daily Times and owner of WWNY Radio and TV, impressed upon him the tremendous responsibilities of being a civilian liaison to the secretary of the Army. When Keating was appointed, he said that he was afraid he wouldn’t live up to those expectations.
“It is the experience of a lifetime,” Keating said. “I want to conclude by thanking all who came here today – and all those general officers who commanded here, the Soldiers and family members – for making this an experience of a lifetime.”
Mennes said that he only had the honor of knowing Keating for several months since he took command. He reached out to former 10th Mountain Division (LI) commanders to capture their thoughts about Keating and his years of honorable service.
Mennes quoted retired Lt. Gen. James Campbell, who said that there were three things he could always rely on: “Soldiers and leaders would do their duty; the North Country would be there to support us; and Tony Keating would be there, right by our side.”
Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, director of the Army Staff, described Keating as this generation’s Minnie Dole – a visionary leader who advocated for the establishment of mountain infantry in the U.S. Army.
“He said these are two men who brought forward an unwavering belief that the 10th Mountain Division is what the Army needs to lead the world’s peace,” Mennes said.
Mennes said that Keating served with honor and integrity, and that he always had the courage and confidence to speak his mind.
“So, frankly, Tony, I’m humbled to call you a friend,” Mennes said. “As I reflect on the wonderful relationships I’ve enjoyed, it’s filled with folks like Tony and I think it continues to inspire me to serve.”