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Md. Marine sergeant killed in Afghanistan

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By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Two of the things that people remembered Tuesday night about Charles I. Cartwright were his brilliant smile and his determination to be a Marine.

Charlie Cartwright, as he was known at Walkersville High School in Frederick County, was killed Saturday in Afghanistan while serving as a sergeant in the Marine Corps in special operations.

The Pentagon said Tuesday that Cartwright, 26, of Union Bridge, Md., died while supporting combat operations in Farah province.

Trained originally in reconnaissance, he held sensitive and demanding assignments and had been deployed overseas at least four times, twice in Iraq and twice in Afghanistan.

"He was an incredible young man," said Susan Pardo, one of his teachers at Walkersville High, from which he graduated in 2001. His smile, she said, "was just beyond belief."

Fellow Walkersville grad Chris Hohnke attested to Cartwright's amiability and gregariousness.

At gatherings as a teenager, Hohnke said he was "the life of the party." If Cartwright was there, Hohnke said, "he'd be having a good time, and so would everybody else."

A "really nice guy," Hohnke added. "If you knew him, you were lucky."

As Pardo recalled, Cartwright was an athlete who wrestled and played football, and "he was a student." Both mischievous and a "good kid," she said, he "lived life to the fullest."

She said Cartwright had married 11 months ago. In addition to his "great circle of friends," she said, he was "a family person," whose wife, parents and sister "meant the world to him."

Pardo, who taught Cartwright in health and physical education classes, called him "a great son, husband, brother and friend" who was true to his military calling. "He knew what he wanted," she said. "He always wanted to be a Marine." He "just always said that's what he wanted to do . . . from the very first."

Cartwright joined the service Sept. 10, 2001. He was assigned to 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, part of the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

He joined the special operations command a few months after it was created in 2006, the year he was promoted to sergeant. According to the Marines, the command's responsibilities include "special reconnaissance and direct action."

He had been wounded at least once and had received decorations, including two combat action ribbons and a Navy presidential unit citation.

Service as a Marine "was his dream," his former teacher said. "He lived it."


© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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