Kasem entertained U.S. troops in 1950s
Casey Kasem’s life story intersected with Western New Yorkers in other ways than as recounted in Bob Skurzewski’s excellent My View article of June 30.
Kasem was an especially entertaining member of a group of 13 U.S. Army soldiers ordered to the Far East Command in 1952 who spent 18 days aboard a troopship traveling from Seattle to Yokohama, Japan. All recent graduates of the Armed Forces Information Officers School, then at Ft. Slocum, they convinced the ship’s chaplain that they could produce a mimeographed newspaper daily in exchange for better berth accommodations in the unused ship’s brig located on a higher deck.
Kasem had worked for radio station WXYZ in Detroit as a young multivoiced actor on several radio dramas, including “The Lone Ranger” serials, originated by Buffalo radio great Fran Stryker. Crossing the Pacific, Kasem helped relieve the group’s boredom with frequent non-broadcast performances that used his repertoire of singular voice talent.
Arriving at Camp Drake, the replacement depot in Japan, Kasem and several others of the original 13 were assigned to one of the many radio stations of the Far East Network, later known as Armed Forces Radio. Four others, including this Western New Yorker, were assigned to the Pacific Stars & Stripes daily newspaper.
Joseph P. Tartaro