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Edward P. Cutolo   '54

No. 20153     • November 4, 1931 - May 26, 1980

Died in Sculthorpe, England

Interred in West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY

Edward Philip Cutolo was born on Nov 4, 1931, the son of Dr. and Mrs. Salvatore Rafael Cutolo of New York City. The family now has two half sisters, Gail and Mona. Ed went to Cardinal Hayes High School, where he wrote for the school newspaper, which accounts for his work later on the Howitzer yearbook staff. He also joined a local motorcycle club but lost interest when he hit an oil spot that sent him sliding down the street. He also developed a yen for flying, to the degree that he could be found at nearby airports washing private planes in exchange for flying lessons. This passion reached a peak later on when he bought a Bonanza while stationed at Ft. Polk, LA. After high school, Ed attended Georgetown University, Washington, DC, lasted about six weeks, and then transferred to a couple of colleges in New York City. His father began calling him the inter-collegiate freshman, and was quite put out with him. Ed then decided to go to West Point when he found that the Academy commissioned Air Force as well as Army officers. Ed’s father reasoned that his son might as well get an education while flying, but at West Point Ed discovered the Infantry and that changed everything. He became committed to the Queen of Battle, although he continued to enjoy flight to the extent that he joined flying clubs wherever he was stationed.

At West Point, Ed and I met somewhere in that hectic first week in 5th New Cadet Company and then again a few weeks later as members of Cadet Company H-1. We found ourselves lined up together by the customs of the Military Academy, especially the unofficial ones, like the H-1 “Field Order.” Ed sat (stiffly, of course) at a table near a wall of the soaring south wing of the mess hall and I sat (equally stiffly) against the vast opposite wall that seemed miles away. Our duty was clear. When an upperclassman barked, “Field Order!” Ed jumped to his feet to holler as loud as possible “How many of the enemy, Mister Galvin!” whereupon I leaped to my feet and answered “Five thousand, Sir!” to which he would sound off, “How many of us?” and I would call back, “Two old men and a mule boy, Sir!” to which he responded louder than ever, “SOUND THE CHARGE!!” That usually evoked an unofficial cheer. That exchange was repeated between us whenever our paths crossed throughout our Army careers. At Camp Buckner we were a team in the canoe races. I was fore and Ed, with his strong shoulders, was aft. We were in Spanish classes together, and both of us used the language in Latin America as the years went by. As we neared graduation, when we all acquired automobiles, I went with Ed to pick up his car, a Mercury I think, somewhere in New Jersey. The return run was unforgettable. I followed him as he rocketed back up 9W to Highland Falls and realized how deeply Ed loved speed.

After cadet days we went to Ft. Benning together for junior officer training and parachute school and then Ranger School, where we again paired off in the north Georgia Mountains, as traditional Ranger buddies. There, on a cold night during a sleet storm, Ed tore open his hand on a rusty barbed wire fence as he fell into an underground stream. In those forested hills there was no access to medical help, so we knocked on the door of an isolated farmhouse and got help from a kind, elderly couple and continued on our way. After the rigors of jump school and the Ranger patrols, Ed left for the 11th Airborne Division and then to Headquarters, Strike Command, and then a year with the Vietnamese Army. In 1965 we met again at the Command & Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth. Many in the class knew our next assignment would be to Vietnam, and Ed, having just come back, was generous with advice on what we could expect in the jungle environment, a subject only slightly touched on at the staff college in those days. With his experience, Ed mentored several of us in sessions held at his house. The sťances, as we called them, were attended by Ed’s two powerful watch dogs, who kept us all from making any fast moves. After graduation, his expertise in Spanish and Latin America led to assignments in Argentina and later Venezuela, followed by his return to Vietnam for battalion command in the 9th Infantry Division, where he was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Bronze Stars for Valor, and 16 Air Medals, among other decorations. He came back to Ft. Polk in 1970 to take command of the Training Battalion there until he was selected to attend the Naval War College and earn a master’s degree in International Affairs from George Washington University. This led to assignments in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Department of the Army. In addition to several classified missions, Ed’s final assignment was command of the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Ft. Devens, MA, a position he very much wanted and deserved.

After two years as the leader of that distinguished organization, Ed lost his life in an automobile accident in Sculthorpe, England. Some felt that the circumstances were inadequately explained. He was returned to West Point, where, on Jun 6, 1980, he was buried with full honors, well deserved in every way and admired by all who knew him and saw his dedication to the motto of the Academy, “Duty, Honor, Country.” Some day, when we all have joined the Long Gray Line, Ed will be able to tell us of some things we want to know.

—Dr. Ed Cutolo, Jr., and Jack Galvin ‘54

Originally published in TAPS, SUMMER 2012

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