Cavanaugh, Edward Joseph, COL

 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
1542-Infantry Unit Commander
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Officer)
Primary Unit
1970-1971, HHC, Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV)
Service Years
1946 - 1971



Six Overseas Service Bars

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

12 kb

Home State
Year of Birth
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Casualty Info
Home Town
Worcester, MA
Last Address
Worcester, MA

Casualty Date
Jul 29, 1971
Hostile, Died of Wounds
Artillery, Rocket, Mortar
Quang Nam (Vietnam)
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
U.S. Military Academy West Point Post Cemetery - West Point, New York
Wall/Plot Coordinates
03W 117

 Official Badges 

Infantry Shoulder Cord

 Unofficial Badges 

Order Of The Bayonet

 Military Association Memberships
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  2013, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

Combat Infantryman 2nd Award
Master Parachutist

 Unit Assignments
Korea Military Advisory Group (KMAG)Special Forces Recruiting, Ft. Campbell, US Army Special Operations Command (Airborne) (USASOC) 7th Infantry Division1st Battalion, 31st Infantry
Infantry Center and School (Staff) Fort Benning, GACommand and General Staff College (CGSC) Resident CourseUS Army Europe (USAREUR)Armed Forces Staff College (Staff)
US Air Force Academy (Staff)Army War College (Staff)Department of the Army (DA)1st Infantry Division
US Army Vietnam (USARV)Military Assistance Command Vietnam MACV
  1946-1948, 1542, Korea Military Advisory Group (KMAG)
  1948-1950, 1542, Special Forces Recruiting, Ft. Campbell, US Army Special Operations Command (Airborne) (USASOC)
  1950-1950, 7th Infantry Division
  1950-1951, HHC, 1st Battalion, 31st Infantry
  1952-1956, Infantry Center and School (Staff) Fort Benning, GA
  1956-1956, Command and General Staff College (CGSC) Resident Course
  1957-1959, US Army Europe (USAREUR)
  1960-1962, Armed Forces Staff College (Staff)
  1962-1965, US Air Force Academy (Staff)
  1965-1965, Army War College (Staff)
  1965-1967, Department of the Army (DA)
  1967-1967, 1st Infantry Division
  1967-1968, US Army Vietnam (USARV)
  1970-1971, HHC, Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1946-1946 US Occupation of Germany (WWII)
  1950-1950 Korean War/UN Defensive (1950)
  1951-1951 Korean War/CCF Intervention (1950-51)
  1970-1971 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase VII Campaign (1970-71)
 Colleges Attended 
United States Military Academy
  1942-1946, United States Military Academy
 Additional Information
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.

He was also a Master Parachutist. See photo.
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