Goroskop Maia 2012
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“He expected and maintained the rules of military life”

Col. Frank Castagneto and his wife, Anne, before a reception for officers and invited guests on New Years Day 1963.

Frank C. Castagneto enlisted as a private in the Army in 1936 and advanced through the ranks to full colonel. According to his daughter Carla, he never forgot what it was like to be an enlisted man, but he also always maintained correct protocol between the ranks when he was on duty.

 

Commanding officers were often expected to host social affairs on post. These formal gatherings were customarily restricted to the officer corps and invited civilian guests, and Col. Castagneto followed this tradition. Likewise, NCOs might invite Col. Castagneto to some of their formal occasions. Col. Castagneto would put in a brief appearance as the post’s commander, but he knew it was not his place to linger.

 

Nor did Col. Castagneto and his wife usually socialize with enlisted personnel in their quarters. When interviewed together, Col. Castagneto's daughters recalled:

 

 

But Daddy would never have had an enlisted man and his wife over for dinner.”

 

Not at their home. No.”

 

But even an officer can’t really invite, you know, an EM [enlisted man] to the Officers’ Club if there’s a function.”

 

 

-Esther Bolger and Carla Cain, who as teenaged daughters of Col. and Mrs. Castagneto, lived at Fort Slocum from 1961 to 1964

(interviewed 2007)

 

Still, Col. Castagneto applied a well-developed sense of circumstance to military etiquette. When his daughter, Esther, got married at Fort Slocum in 1964, her fiancé was just out of the service as an enlisted man. On the morning of the wedding, guests gathered at the family house on the post, the commanding officer’s quarters (Building 1), and Col. Castagneto, in civilian clothes as the father of the bride, was busy in the kitchen cooking breakfast for everyone. Among the visitors that day were several enlisted men. His daughter, Carla recalled that he went round to every guest, asking, “'Son, do you need some more?'  And… these guys were like, this is my post commander!”

 

At the same time, during his tenure as post commander he loosened other customs that separated ranks in some circumstances, such as eliminating separate beaches for officers and enlisted personnel.

 

[Col. Castagneto] ...expected and maintained the rules of military life when it was work hours. After work hours, we could be at the bowling alley, and it wasn’t only the officers could use it at certain times, it was anybody…, whether it was the officers, the enlisted, their kids, it didn’t matter, this was social.”

 

-Carla Cain

(interviewed 2007)