By Katie McFadden
On Saturday, June 17, a year to the day he died, The Beach House on Beach 116th remembered late firefighter Casey Skudin, with a plaque dedication, that will forever serve as a reminder of the legacy Casey left behind.
On June 17, 2022, Casey Skudin, a resident of Long Beach who worked in Rockaway’s Beach 116th firehouse, was killed on a family vacation while driving to the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. Casey took the brunt of the impact of a falling tree, saving his wife, Angela and two sons, Ben and CJ, in the process. But the sudden, tragic loss of Casey left an unimaginable void in the hearts of the Skudin family and those in his firehouse, Ladder 137. On Saturday, friends, the Skudin family and members of the FDNY gathered at Engine 268/Ladder 137 on the anniversary of Casey’s passing, for a plaque dedication to the late firefighter.
Through tears and sometimes laughter, those who loved Casey spoke of the “tremendous” man that he was. FDNY Chaplain Ann Kansfield began with a prayer for the fire department, followed by FDNY Division 13 Commander Dan Bowman, who said he learned much about Casey through his celebration of life the year prior. “One word that jumped out to me was ‘passion.’ Whether it was on the beaches of the south shores as a lifeguard or in his strenuous CrossFit workouts, he did it with passion. He was a dedicated member of the FDNY and more importantly, he had a great love for Angela and his family. He was a family man who had a strong commitment to this job and to everything he tackled in life. It’s notable that Casey had a Class A and unit citation as well in his time with the NYC Fire Department,” Bowman said. “My message is simple. When you’re having a down day, through the many challenges that life will throw at you, I would like you to stop and think about how Casey lived and embrace those challenges and, in that moment, be the best firefighter you can be. To Angela and the Skudin family, I hope today, a little bit of peace and comfort comes to you to see that Casey’s spirit and passion continues from this firehouse.”
Captain Sean Kane, commanding officer of Ladder 137, said he only knew Casey for two years, but in that time, he learned so much from him. “I noticed that he did things in a way that was great. Casey was a great fireman. A great senior man, a great man, a great member of Ladder 137, a great member of the Beach House. A great water rescue instructor, a great rescuer. A great lifeguard, great co-worker, great friend, great family member and most importantly, a great husband, a great dad,” Kane said. He also shared that Casey had left an impression on his own son, when he would come to visit the firehouse. “He taught him how the truck operates. When my son wasn’t here, I’d be Facetiming him and he always asked, ‘hey dad, is Casey working? Tell him I said hello.’ I know Casey meant a lot to everyone here and losing him has left a huge void in their lives, but I promise you, the members of Engine 268 and Ladder 137 will always be here for Casey’s friends, family and especially Angela, Ben and CJ.”
Dennis Tveter, on behalf of the United Firefighters Association, then presented a plaque of their own to the Skudin family that read, “In loving memory of firefighter Casey Skudin, Ladder Company 137, January 15, 2006 to June 17, 2022, an everlasting tribute to his dedication to service.”
Fellow member of Ladder 137, Lieutenant Mario Polit, fought through tears as he spoke of his friend. “I was thinking what word would describe Casey—tremendous. He had a tremendous presence, a tremendous heart. He would always be the first one to step up if you needed help. His love for Angela and his sons, Ben and CJ—tremendous. He loved to workout. He was a CrossFit coach, a triathlete. He’d ride his bike to every tour, every chance he’d get, in any weather. He was a great firefighter and a great friend. He loved being a lifeguard, surfing, traveling, his family and the beach,” Polit said. “He was an FDNY medal recipient, a role model for all of us to emulate. He checked all the boxes of how to be a truly exceptional human being and he will be tremendously missed. This plaque will be hung in our firehouse to honor his memory for years to come, and people will come and go, and they will read the names on the wall, and they too will know the legacy that Casey Skudin left behind.”
Breaking up the tremendous sadness felt in the firehouse, was none other than Casey’s youngest son, CJ, who brought some comedic relief to the ceremony. CJ Skudin remembered his dad fondly, through their close bond, and some of his most notable features—his legs, and his dad bod. “The best thing about him? Well, his dad bod. I always wondered why dads get dad bods. I think I understand now, they bond a lot with their sons. One day I’ll be looking the exact same way,” CJ said to laughs across the firehouse.
Following CJ’s “goofy” moment, the firehouse plaque was unveiled, followed the playing of Taps and bagpipe tunes by the FDNY Emerald Society Pipe Band.
The ceremony ended with a reflection from Casey’s wife, Angela, who shared stories demonstrating his love for her, and for his job. “Hands down, Casey was my best friend. We wanted to be with one another 24/7. If he could’ve taken me with him to the firehouse, he would’ve. We were that kind of couple. It’s terrible losing your husband but losing your best friend and the person that looks at you like that, losing that person is the most difficult thing. That’s the hardest thing to do in life,” she said. “I asked him ‘if you were in a situation like 9/11 and you know what you know about 9/11 now, would you go in or would you choose me and come home to me’ and he just looked over and said, ‘I hope you can forgive me.’ And I hope every one of you have that answer. I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud to not have been chosen by my husband. My husband was a tremendous firefighter.”
She also shared that after Casey’s passing, she learned that he had never said anything bad about her to his firehouse family. “It was the best comment I ever heard about my husband,” she said. “I’m so proud to be Casey Skudin’s wife and I’m sure you guys are so proud to be in Casey Skudin’s firehouse. This day is for him. Thank you for honoring his memory and being part of our family. God Bless the FDNY.”