"He told her that he was cheered by letters sent by school classes that had adopted him on the AnySoldier.com Web site. To a student who asked about his favorite animal, he wrote: "I like penguins."

As Soldier Dies in

Iraq

, Father Loses ‘Best Friend’

Sergeant From

Va.

Is Killed in Hawijah

By Martin Weil

Washington

Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 11, 2007; Page A10

When Forrest D. Cauthorn graduated from high school in

Virginia

, his dad gave him a motorcycle. The idea was for him to ride all summer, crisscrossing the country while he decided what to do with his life.

But what the father did not know was that his son had already made his decision. He had joined the Army.

On April 5, Sgt. Forrest D. Cauthorn, 22, an infantryman from Charles City, Va., was killed in Iraq, the Pentagon said.

He died in Hawijah of wounds suffered when his unit encountered enemy forces using small arms and grenades, according to the Pentagon.

"My best friend," his father, Forrest W. Cauthorn, called him last night. "The best thing I’ve ever done in my life."

The two had always been close, his father said. In 22 years, the elder Cauthorn said, his son "lived more than most people" do in a lifetime.

"We were always together," including time the son spent "riding with me on the back of my motorcycle," Cauthorn said.

The younger Forrest Cauthorn had a positive outlook, his father said. He was "a unique person" who made no enemies and fit in with people far older than he. "Even my old biker friends," the father said.

Rather than be content to complain about the country’s problems, Cauthorn said, his son wanted to help solve them.

"He told me point-blank that he was not going to be one of those people" who express displeasure but refuse to act, the father said.

Telling his son’s story was important, Cauthorn said, because it lets others know "what good kids do and what price they paid."

Forrest D. Cauthorn, who was known by his middle name, Dane, attended

Manchester

High School

in

Midlothian

,

Va.

, a suburb west of

Richmond

. He was a member of ROTC throughout high school, said Sgt. Maj. William J. Wilderman, an instructor in the program.

"He was a good, hardworking kid," Wilderman said last night. "He was one of our cadet leaders."

"He was the best kid anybody could ask for," a family friend said.

"His father loved him very much, and he loved his father very much," said the friend, who declined to be identified by name. "His father was proud of him every day of his life, and he is going to miss him tremendously."

Washington Post reporter Tamara Jones encountered the soldier in Afghanistan at the end of 2004, when Cauthorn, then 19, was a private first class. At the time, he had been there for nine months.

Cauthorn indicated to Jones that his

Afghanistan

assignment had lacked danger and was "great, if you like riding round in a damn Humvee all day."

He told her that he was cheered by letters sent by school classes that had adopted him on the AnySoldier.com Web site. To a student who asked about his favorite animal, he wrote: "I like penguins."

Cauthorn was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division based at Schofield Barracks in

Hawaii

.

His father said he intended to have his son’s body cremated. Then, he said, he plans to make the cross-country ride his son never made "and take him with me."

Comments

  1. Wow…MP… Didn’t need that today…it’s a gray one here…God Bless Sgt. Cauthorn, his family and all lives he touched.

  2. Major,
    The pain is too great to bear when I read these. But to honor them, their sacrifice, and their families, I do.
    Here another Dad, another best friend, has lost his best friend, his son.
    A father of a KIA Marine recently said, “One thing I have learned: Have more than one friend.” He was saying his son was his only friend.
    I used to think it was a blessing being a Marine whose son also decided to wear the EGA. Now I think its a curse. I, and others like me, know too much. And we don’t like to see our best friends in danger.
    Semper Fi, Major.
    Don
    Dad of LCpl Brent (Remember him? Off to OCS in 6 weeks. He took your advice. Never give up!)

  3. Its tough to lose your bestfriend. To try and imagine Mr. Cauthorn’s pain is tough enough. No one is here to pick me up off the floor so I’ll have to be brave, too.
    Don, thank your son for his service from me.

  4. Dear Major Pain:
    Thank you for posting these stories. While they are heartwrenching, it reminds me of how blessed we are as a nation to have such men (and women)who serve us, yes serve us. It’s also overwhelming to think about at times. Thank you.

  5. Sgt Cauthorn an i attendet school at machester togerther he and i were co captains of the ROTC Raider team he was a great kid i hadn’t seen him in 2 years due to being on a deployment myself he will be missed greatly by all who knew him and all who knew of the great things he did for his country i will his family all the best and they are in my prayers God bless

  6. Sgt Cauthorn an i attendet school at machester togerther he and i were co captains of the ROTC Raider team he was a great kid i hadn’t seen him in 2 years due to being on a deployment myself he will be missed greatly by all who knew him and all who knew of the great things he did for his country i will his family all the best and they are in my prayers God bless

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