Last Known Activity|
Edward Joseph Cavanaugh NO. 15908 CLASS OF 1946, Died 29 July 1971 in Vietnam, aged 47 years. Interment: West Point Cemetery, West Point, New York
"His Quiet, Unassuming nature, his simple humanitarianism and sincerity spoke a universal language that won the hearts of the Vietnamese people who came to know him." "Those of us who served with him were strengthened by his example for he was a professional soldier in every sense of that word." These phrases written by a Vietnamese friend and by a classmate of Ed's say it all, sincerely and simply.
Born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of a fireman, Ed was the second oldest of a devout Catholic family of ten children. During his youth he always served as an altar boy and throughout his life was devoted to the church in which he believed. His appointment to West Point fulfilled a childhood dream and filled him with pride. Entering the Academy outwardly carefree but inwardly diligently determined, he readily adapted to military life, made a reasonable record, bound many a friendship and with the same determination left it for the Infantry.
After the Basic Course and the Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ed went to his first assignment with troops in Korea. The Army there in 1947 was a near shambles and the Korean Army was just being organized. Serving with both he was neither discouraged nor deterred but undertook his duties with enthusiasm and drive. He was proud to be a soldier.
From Korea he went to Fort Campbell, took command of an airborne rifle company, and thoroughly enjoyed meeting the challenges and facing the responsibilities of that most satisfying of all commands. He and Terry McDonough, a charming, sensitive and personable girl were married; they were perfect complements, one to the other. That year was a happy one indeed highlighted by the birth of his first of five daughters, Kathy.
Curtailing the tour at Fort Campbell, he returned to Korea for his first combat assignment. Combat is the only true test of an Infantryman and as a company commander with the 31st Infantry, Ed measured up to every expectation. After eight months in action, he was evacuated, highly decorated and seriously wounded, to the hospital at Fort Belvoir. Terry and Kathy joined him there. Encouraged by their love and faith in him, be set his mind to recovery and accomplished it fully over the next nine months.
He went back to the Infantry School, serving for four happy years, first as a student, then as instructor and lastly as aide to the Commandant. Sharon and Eileen were born there making these years rewarding for Ed both professionally and personally. Then followed tours at the Command and General Staff College, in Europe, at Armed Forces Staff College, and on the faculty at the Air Force Academy. Sheila was born at Leavenworth and Ceci at the Air Force Academy -- the family was now complete with five busy, happy girls. Ed delighted in telling his girls that "a busy girl is a happy girl."
He sincerely believed in this and lived by it himself. While at the Army War College in 1965, be earned a Masters Degree from George Washington University, and following graduation served on the Department of the Army Staff and was promptly pulled Into the Secretary, General Staff. In all his assignments, Ed was a doer and did well.
He served two combat tours in Vietnam, the first with the 1st Division and Headquarters, United States Army, Vietnam, and the second as Senior Advisor, I Army Republic of Vietnam, Task Force 71. His men, American and Vietnamese alike, loved him because be was a man eminently trustworthy, humble and respectful and above all a fine soldier.
The evening of 29 July 1971 he was hit by a fragment during a rocket attack, and died. He was to leave Vietnam in the morning. Ed has been missed by his wife, children, family and friends. And though his departure saddens us, we have adjusted to it now and say with pride that we have known and loved a good man.