Thomas James Cavanaugh

United States Marine Corps
31 August 1946 - 19 September 1968
Waterbury, Connecticut
Panel 43W Line 034

Navy Cross

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Thomas James Cavanaugh

15 Mar 2005

He was a courageous man,
Strong and brave and true.
Fighting for what he believed in,
Always shining through.
You couldn't find many like him,
They were few and far between.
He was the leader of his group,
A United States Marine.

Corporal Thomas J. Cavanaugh
Was the title that he bore.
Brother to those who knew him well,
A friend to even more.
Maybe it was his willingness
To lend a helping hand.
Or the honesty in his eyes
That made you understand.
Whatever was the reason,
Just looking at him you knew,
This was no ordinary man.
And that, you see, is true.

In 1959,
The Vietnam War began.
In September of '68,
Tommy died a brave man.
He gave his life that day
So someone else might live.
Fighting until the very end,
A hero is what he is!

Serving as a Platoon Sergeant,
He knew what he had to do.
Shouting words of encouragement
So his men could make it through.
Assisting the wounded to safety,
The enemy was all around.
Then he noticed a comrade
Seriously wounded on the ground.

Exposing himself to danger,
Not even thinking twice.
His only thought and care
Was to keep this man alive.
Tommy was badly wounded,
But the pain he just ignored.
Moving towards his companion
Until he could move no more.
Somehow he found the will inside
To keep himself alive,
And direct his men to help his comrade.
And then, he closed his eyes.

They say the greatest gift
That a man could ever give,
Is the gift of his own life.
That's what Tommy did.
I wish he were here today
So I can tell him how proud I am.
It isn't hard to see,
My Grandparents raised a man!!

Sadly Missed by his niece,
Colleen (Cavanaugh) Goffredo

28 Apr 2005

The photo at the top of this page is Thomas James Cavanaugh's recruit photo. Thomas was a member of Platoon 275, Parris Island, 4 September 1965 / 23 December 1965. I noticed that there is not an image of Thomas with his memorial. Three other Marines from Platoon 275, would also make the ultimate sacrifice in the war in Vietnam.

Neil Wilson
USMC 65-69
Delta 1/7 68-69

20 Dec 2006

This is my Great-Grandfather.
He was a great person even though I never knew him.
Thank you for honoring him in such a great way.

From his great-granddaughter.
E-Mail will be forwarded by the

24 Feb 2007

I am so sorry that you died 2 weeks before I was born. I probably would have loved you. I would probably would visit your grave if I could.

your nephew,
Alec Cavanaugh

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 19 September 1968, in the midst of Operation Mameluke Thrust, the 2/7 Marines lost 16 men:
  • E Co, 2nd Bn, 7th Marines
    • Cpl Joseph P. Lopez, Denver, CO (Silver Star)

  • F Co, 2nd Bn, 7th Marines
    • Cpl Thomas J. Cavanaugh, Waterbury, CT (Navy Cross)
    • Pfc Michael A. Figueroa, East Springfield, PA
    • Pfc James D. Kelley, Greeneville, TN
    • LCpl Mark A. Knollmeyer, Seattle, WA
    • LCpl John L. Krol, New York, NY
    • Pfc Peter D. Matarazzo, Rochester, NY
    • Pfc Terrence Moran, New York, NY
    • Pfc Gary E. Noles, East Wahneta, FL
    • Pvt Francis S. Rhoades, Elmer, NJ
    • LCpl Roy W. Rich, Wartrace, TN
    • LCpl Pedro S. Rodriquez, Waco, TX
    • Cpl Edgar A. Smith, Mount Vernon, NY
    • Pfc Mark L. Triplett, St Charles, IL
    • LCpl Philip J. Wajda, Chicago, IL (Silver Star)

  • H&S Co, 2nd Bn, 7th Marines
    • Sgt Raymond T. Conway, Miami, FL
The President of the United States
takes pride in presenting the



United States Marine Corps

for service as set forth in the following


For extraordinary heroism while serving as a Platoon Sergeant with Company F, Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, Ninth Marine Amphibious Brigade, in the Republic of Vietnam on 19 September 1968. Company F was conducting a reconnaissance in force in Quang Nam Province when the Marines encountered a large enemy force employing heavy automatic weapons and accurate sniper fire which pinned down elements of the company and caused numerous casualties. Rapidly assessing the situation, Corporal Cavanaugh skillfully deployed elements of his platoon to establish a strong base of fire which would enable the beleaguered Marines to extract injured personnel. Completely disregarding his own safety, he fearlessly exposed himself to the intense hostile fire, shouting words of encouragement to his men and directing their fire against the enemy emplacements while assisting the wounded to positions of relative safety. As the last of the casualties were withdrawn from the battle area, Corporal Cavanaugh rapidly redeployed his forces to provide covering fire for another hard pressed platoon. Alertly observing one of his men seriously wounded and lying in a dangerously exposed position, he unhesitatingly began maneuvering across the fire-swept terrain to his companion's side when he was seriously wounded. Ignoring his injury, he resolutely continued to crawl toward his wounded comrade until he was no longer able to advance. Steadfastly refusing medical attention, he calmly directed his men in assisting his injured companion to a covered position. Once assured that the last of the wounded Marines had been treated, Corporal Cavanaugh allowed himself to be evacuated to a protected area where he succumbed to his injuries. His bold initiative and heroic efforts inspired all who observed him and contributed immeasurably to the accomplishment of his unit's mission. By his courage, sincere concern for the welfare of his fellow Marines and unwavering devotion to duty, Corporal Cavanaugh upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his niece,
Colleen (Cavanaugh) Goffredo

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 15 Mar 2005
Last updated 07/31/2007