David Warren Cutshall was born January 11, 1947, in Sioux City, Iowa, to Dr. Hal and Elaine (Halverson) Cutshall. He had four younger siblings: Georgia, Tura, Sandra, and Steven. David graduated from Rapid City High School in 1965 and then attended the University of South Dakota for short time. He transferred to South Dakota School of Mines and Technology before entering the service. He “was pre-med and planned to continue his studies to become a medical doctor upon completing his military enlistment,” according to his sister, Georgia. One of his classmates remembers that David was “a quiet and polite person with a friendly smile.” David was known to have many interests including hunting and skiing. He had a “wonderful, dry sense of humor,” and was a gifted artist and writer.
David Cutshall entered the Marine Corps in Denver, Colorado on June 9, 1966. He was sent overseas August 30, 1967 after his training. David was a Marine Lance Corporal in Company M, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Division (Reinforced). He wrote home often to his family; Georgia told us, “His letters had me simultaneously in stitches and in tears.” At one point he wrote home a touching poem he entitled “Prayer”:
In the middle of this forsaken land,/I stand , a soldier, gun in hand. For my country my life I’ll give,/So people of free lands may live. Now standing here before my squad,/I bend my knee and pray to God,… “God I need you, day to day/Please listen to me while I pray. Please help me through this coming year/Help me be brave, shun all my fears. God almighty, God on high/Help me be brave and never cry. Oh God I need you every day,/To reassure and guide my way. These rotting jungles of death and strife/Have weakened my old love for life. I no longer worry,/I don’t seem to care./It’s not my war, it seems unfair. Yet I still feel your strength and understand/ That if I am to be a man, I must fight not just what I see,/ But the doubting soul inside of me. So, help me Lord. Help me tonight./I swear to you I’ll win my fight. So please, dear Lord, please be near,/To help me through this coming year.”
According to his family, David wrote home that he had been wounded, sometime around his birthday in January of 1968 when a bullet went through his neck and another “struck him in his leg and lodged next to his spine.” Although he was operated on several times, the bullet next to his spine was not removed and as he continued his recovery, word came to him at the end of February that his “company was taking large losses.” His loyalty to his company overrode all else and so David left the hospital and returned to his company.
Soon thereafter, Lance Corporal David Warren Cutshall was killed in action in Quang Tri Province on March 8, 1968. He died as a result of “wounds to the head and to the body from a hostile grenade while engaged in action against hostile forces.” David’s 3/3 Marines engaged an NVA Division near Con Thien. 14 men from Co. M, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines were killed in the fighting, including David. His body was returned to the United States and LCpl David Warren Cutshall was buried with full military honors at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis.
Among his awards LCpl Cutshall earned 2 Purple Hearts and the Silver Star.
The Silver Star citation is as follows:
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Machine Gun Team Leader with Company M, Third Battalion, Third Marines, Third Marine Division. On 6 March 1968, during a company-size operation near Con Thien, Lance Corporal Cutshall's platoon came under intense enemy automatic weapons, mortar and artillery fire from a well entrenched battalion of North Vietnamese Army Regulars. Observing enemy movement through the brush, he marked the area with machine gun tracer rounds which enabled an anti-tank assault team to destroy an enemy bunker with rocket fire. Throughout the five-hour fire fight, he maintained a critical position and directed highly effective machine gun fire upon the enemy. Ordered to withdraw to a more advantageous position, he provided covering fire for his companions as they moved to join their platoon. While preparing to throw a hand grenade, Lance Corporal CUTSHALL was severely wounded by enemy grenade fragments which caused him to drop his grenade. Without regard for his own safety, he immediately fell upon the activated grenade to shield his companions. Although he was killed when it exploded, he undoubtedly saved the lives of his three companions. By his extraordinary courage, bold initiative and selfless devotion to duty, Lance Corporal CUTSHALL upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
David Cutshall is currently survived by his mother, Elaine Burgess, Sun City, Arizona; his sisters, Georgia Adams of Sioux Falls, Sandra Cutshall of Custer, and his brother, Steve Cutshall, Rapid City.
His father, Dr. Hal Cutshall passed away in 1986. His sister Tura Miller passed away 09/06/2009 in Sun City AZ.