Francis J. Cuddy, Jr. – Colonel, United States Marine Corps

Colonel Francis J Cuddy Jr. United States Marine Corps Reserve (Retired) died on May 25, 2008 with his family at his side after a courageous three-year battle with Metastatic Colon Cancer. Colonel Cuddy was born in Stamford, Connecticut, February 12, 1940, the eldest of six children to Marion Dyer Cuddy of Stamford, Connecticut, and the late Francis J. Cuddy Sr.

He grew up in Stamford, Connecticut with dreams of becoming a pilot. He graduated from Stamford High School in 1958. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps out of high school. He spent five years as an enlisted man where he obtained the rank of Sergeant. From there he applied to become an officer so he could become a pilot. He was accepted and attended the University of Rhode Island where he played football as a tackle and was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

He graduated with a degree in education in the spring of 1966. On June 12th he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Marines Corps. While waiting for attendance to flight school he played football for the Pensacola Gosshawks. Upon completion of flight school he was assigned to the Presidential Helicopter Squadron. Shortly after, his orders came in to fly helicopters in Vietnam.

He arrived in Vietnam in August of 1968 where he flew 988 combat missions. While in Vietnam his helicopter was shot down twice and he was once wounded in action. He received the Silver Star, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, 49 Air Medals, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Meritorious Unit Award and the Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze Stars.

After his tour in Vietnam he returned to the Pensacola Naval Air Station to teach at the flight school. It was there where he met Navy Nurse Lieutenant Susan Ann Carey. They were married on November 25th 1972 in Pensacola. Soon after, Francis came off of active duty and joined the reserves.

They moved to New England to start a family and finally settled down in Amherst, New Hamopshire, in 1982. They had three children; Captain Michael Francis United States Marine Corps, (currently deployed in Afghanistan), Francis Joseph, and Thomas Patrick.

Colonel Cuddy spent the remainder of his Reserve career at South Weymouth Naval Air Station with his last command being Commanding Officer of HML-771. He retired from the Marine Corps after serving an illustrious 39 years In his civilian occupation he was a contract corporate jet pilot flying for numerous aviation companies in the world retiring in December of 2005.

Colonel Cuddy belonged to various organizations including, the Reserve Officer Association, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, Military Officer Association of America, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and was a Life Member of the National Rifle Association. Locally he was the Service Master of the VFW Post 4368 in Milford, New Hampshire.

 A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Thursday at 10:00 am in St. Patrick's Church, 34 Amherst Street, Milford. Burial with full military honors will be in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

Charitable donations can be made to The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation in Quantico, Virginia 307 5th Ave Quantico, Virginia 22134 (703) 640-7961.

Distinguished Flying Cross:

Captain Francis J. Cuddy, United States Marine Corps, a Helicopter pilot, was assigned the mission of assisting in the extraction of an Army Special Forces reconnaissance team heavily engaged in combat with a large North Vietnamese Army deep in an mountainous area under the enemy's complete control.

Captain Cuddy, undaunted by the heavy volume of hostile fire directed at his aircraft, directed other helicopters into the area, moved his aircraft into treetop level and delivered repeated rocket and strafing runs on the enemy positions. As a result of his devastating attacks, the hostile fire was suppressed and sufficiently to enable the transport helicopters to safely extract the reconnaissance team. The citation for his award went on the say “. . .Captain Cuddy's courage, superior airmanship, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of personal danger were instrumental in accomplishing this hazardous mission and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.

NOTE: Colonel Cuddy is being laid to rest with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery at 3 P.M. on Monday, 21 July 2008.

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