Although they may not realize it, Independence residents know Norm Casini’s talents as an architect. They’re exemplified in the City Hall complex he designed that was dedicated on July 4, 1982.
Casini, who moved to Independence with his wife, Diane, and their four daughters in 1974, considers the time he spent in the U.S. Army a meaningful milestone in his life.
“I’m no hero,” says Casini, 89. “I joined the service during peacetime in July 1957 and came out at the end of the year. The government released everyone who had critical skills, including physicians, engineers and architects.”
Casini, a private in the Fifth Regiment, earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1956 from Kent State University. He was deployed to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to redesign tunnels that connected various buildings in the complex and was there when President Dwight Eisenhower arrived for an annual checkup.
After returning home, Casini spent about seven years in the Ready Reserves, a U.S. Department of Defense program that maintains a pool of trained service members.
“My time in the army,” Casini says, “helped me move forward in my chosen career.”
William “Bill” Taylor II and William “Corben” Taylor III
William “Bill” Taylor II., 59, and his son, William “Corben” Taylor III, 32, followed their family’s storied legacy of service to our country as members of the U.S. Army. Bill’s grandfather, Elmer Taylor, served in the infantry during World War I, and his father, William Taylor Sr., was a member of the armored cavalry on the mainland.
Bill served from 1981 to 1988, achieving the rank of staff sergeant. After receiving his training at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, he was stationed stateside as a combat medical specialist.
“A cross between a paramedic and a registered nurse, I treated soldiers injured during training maneuvers, which often involved falling off tanks and trucks or being hit in the face while rolling up camo wire,” he says.
Bill was awarded the Achievement Medal for successfully treating a comrade bitten by a venomous timber rattlesnake in Michigan.
“I enlisted secretly because my mother forbade me to do it,” he recalls. “I had turned 18, and my parents were in South Carolina visiting family for Easter. When they came home, the signed enlistment papers were on the kitchen table. My mother burst into tears. My dad smiled. I was very proud of my grandfather and my father. I wanted my family to be proud of me.”
When Bill’s time of service ended, he returned to Ohio and earned his associate degree in nursing from Cuyahoga Community College and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Akron. He just completed his 34th year as a trauma critical care nurse specialist at Metro Health main campus.
“Being in the army was a way for me to give back a little bit and help others,” he says.
Bill’s son, Corben, who achieved the rank of army sergeant E-5, served from 2009 to 2018. He was a combat engineer in charge of mobility and countermobility, which included clearing bombs from roadsides in Afghanistan and Kuwait.
Corben made it a point not to feel the fear.
“If you did, it would control you,” he says. “You did this and lived for the people who were back home, and your brothers and sisters who were with you.”
Now a superintendent for a custom home construction company in Naples, Florida, Corben reflects on what his time in the military means to him.
“It was really important for me to do the things that I knew I could do so others would not get hurt, or
experience what I did,” he says. “My service was important to me because I strive to help others.”