Great love lives on…
In the spring of 1968 that 23 year old Nicholas Cutinha was mortally wounded protecting his fellow soldiers in battle, I was preparing to graduate from high school. As I was anticipating my future with the hope and excitement all graduates experience, the parents of Nicholas Cutinha were grieving the tragic all-too-soon loss of their brave young son – a proud and honorable soldier in the United States Army, serving his country in the Vietnam War.
I never met Nicholas Cutinha. In fact, it was just last year that we read his story in a local newspaper and learned that he was one of 4 or 5 Medal of Honor recipients with gravesites in SW Florida. That Memorial Day we gathered a few flowers from our yard and visited Cutinha’s grave not more than 10 minutes from Pollywog Creek.
Rank and organization: Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army, Company C, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Gia Dinh, Republic of Vietnam, 2 March 1968. Entered service at: Coral Gables, Fla. Born: 13 January 1945, Fernandina Beach, Fla. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. While serving as a machine gunner with Company C, Sp4c. Cutinha accompanied his unit on a combat mission near Gia Dinh. Suddenly his company came under small arms, automatic weapons, mortar and rocket propelled grenade fire, from a battalion size enemy unit. During the initial hostile attack, communication with the battalion was lost and the company commander and numerous members of the company became casualties. When Sp4c. Cutinha observed that his company was pinned down and disorganized, he moved to the front with complete disregard for his safety, firing his machine gun at the charging enemy. As he moved forward he drew fire on his own position and was seriously wounded in the leg. As the hostile fire intensified and half of the company was killed or wounded, Sp4c. Cutinha assumed command of all the survivors in his area and initiated a withdrawal while providing covering fire for the evacuation of the wounded. He killed several enemy soldiers but sustained another leg wound when his machine gun was destroyed by incoming rounds. Undaunted, he crawled through a hail of enemy fire to an operable machine gun in order to continue the defense of his injured comrades who were being administered medical treatment. Sp4c. Cutinha maintained this position, refused assistance, and provided defensive fire for his comrades until he fell mortally wounded. He was solely responsible for killing 15 enemy soldiers while saving the lives of at least 9 members of his own unit. Sp4c. Cutinha’s gallantry and extraordinary heroism were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
Nickie”Great Love Lives On”
A History of Memorial DayThree years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns. (From the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs)