The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance paid special tribute to Navy SEAL and NASA Astronaut Christopher Cassidy of York, Maine, during Sunday's Packers-Vikings game for 'Operation Fan Mail.'
Cassidy, an avid Packers fan, attended York High School in Maine and Naval Academy Prep School in Rhode Island. From there, he received his Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1993, and his M.S. in ocean engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000.
His experience includes 10 years as a member of the U.S. Navy SEAL Teams, with specialized tactics including long-range special reconnaissance (vehicular and foot patrols); direct action building assaults; noncompliant ship-boardings; desert reconnaissance patrols; combat diving; underwater explosives; and a variety of air operations, including parachuting, fast roping, and rappelling.
Cassidy made four six-month deployments: two to Afghanistan, and two to the Mediterranean. He served as executive officer and operations, officer of Special Boat Team Twenty in Norfolk, Va., and SEAL Platoon Commander at SEAL Team THREE in Coronado, Calif. He deployed to the Afghanistan region two weeks after the Sept. 11 tragedy, and served as ground assault force commander for international and U.S.-only combat missions in Afghanistan, and led two months of noncompliant ship-boardings in the Northern Arabian Gulf.
Cassidy was selected by NASA in May 2004. In February 2006, he completed Astronaut Candidate Training, which included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training, T-38 flight training, and water and wilderness survival training. Completion of the initial training qualified him for various technical assignments within the Astronaut Office and future flight assignment as a mission specialist. From 2006 to 2008, he served as Capsule Commander (CAPCOM) in Mission Control. During his NASA career, Cassidy completed six spacewalks, totaling 31 hours, 14 minutes and accumulated 182 days in space.
He has been awarded the Bronze Star with combat 'V' and Presidential Unit Citation for leading a nine-day operation at the Zharwar Kili cave complex – a national priority objective directly on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. Cassidy received a second Bronze Star for combat leadership service in Afghanistan in 2004. He is also a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal.
He and his wife, Julie, are the proud parents of three children.
Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to recognize families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2013 home game and recognize them on the field during pregame activities. A total of 62 families have been recognized with through the program.
To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Essays also can be submitted to the Packers online at packers.com/gameday/gamedaypromotions/operationfan_mail.
Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling.
In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families receive four tickets to the game and a care package from WPS.