Spec. Sean Cutsforth is laid to rest at Arlington

February 24, 2011

Sean Cutsforth was at home in the outdoors. He liked building things with his hands. He even volunteered to mow his coach’s lawn when he was about 12, his father said.

“He figured he could help,” Robert H. Cutsforth said.

That’s what his son was doing in Afghanistan, the elder Cutsforth said. “We just pray what him and many others have done is not for naught and they are able to make the world a better place,” he said.

Army Spec. Sean R. Cutsforth, 22, who grew up in Manassas and Gainesville, died Dec. 15 in Ghazni province after being struck by small-arms fire, according to a statement from Fort Campbell, Ky., where his division was based. His year-long tour was scheduled to end this month. He was buried Thursday morning in Arlington National Cemetery.

Members of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment Old Guard helped more than 20 men from Spec. Cutsforth’s platoon space themselves along the path to his grave site as a band played “Amazing Grace.” They saluted as the gunner passed in a wooden, flag-draped coffin, followed by about 200 family members and friends.

His wife, Ashley Cutsforth, held a red rose and sat close to her mother-in-law, Vickie Cutsforth. The women shared tears as they were each presented a flag.

Sean Cutsforth attended Virginia Wesleyan College for three semesters but decided college wasn’t for him, his father said. He met his wife just as he was researching which branch of the military to join.

“He was one of those genuine all-around, would-do-anything-for-anybody type of persons,” Ashley Cutsforth said in an interview shortly after his death. “I don’t think anybody ever had a negative memory of Sean.”

Since his death, his family has received numerous letters from members of his platoon and old friends. Those notes described how the specialist built shower facilities and decks for his unit in his spare time and how he was a good friend in school.

“It didn’t matter who you were, just how you conducted your life. If you were a good person, he would hang out with you,” his father said.

Spec. Cutsforth’s sense of camaraderie and competition was nurtured through athletics. Despite a rough start in T-ball — he ran to third base instead of first after his first at-bat — he grew into “a premiere athlete,” his father said.

He holds several records with the Ben Lomond Flying Ducks swim team. He wrestled for one year at Brentsville District High School and won the division. He played football until a knee injury kept him sidelined his senior year. And he played baseball throughout high school and college, pitching his high school’s only no-hitter, said Brian Knight, his coach at Brentsville.

He had a “presence because of his size” but was quiet. That commanded respect from his team and classmates, Knight said. He was a hard worker who looked out for the team’s best interest.

Knight said if his own two sons “grow up to have the same values and work ethic” as his former left-handed pitcher, “I would be thrilled.”

Spec. Cutsforth was assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

His decorations included the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

In addition to his wife, father and mother, survivors include two sisters, Casey and Kayla, and a brother, Ryan. A son, who will be named Sean Jr., is due in April.

He is the 690th service member from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

goodmanc@washpost.com

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