Saturday, April 14, 2007

Forrest Cauthorn remembered by father

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 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."

From the Washington Post

Related Link:
Forrest D. Cauthorn killed by small arms fire