Francis J. Cuddy, Jr

  • Colonel
  • Vietnam - Honorary


Colonel Francis J. Cuddy, Jr. is inducted as an “Honorary Member” into the University of Rhode Island Army ROTC Hall of Fame.

Francis Cuddy was born in Stamford, Connecticut on 12 February 1940 to Francis and Marion Cuddy. Frank grew up in Stamford and always dreamed of being a pilot. He graduated from Stamford High School; and while there, he participated in many activities, including football. After graduation in 1958, Frank enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He spent five years on active duty as a Marine Infantryman, obtaining the rank of Sergeant. He entered the University of Rhode Island in September 1962 with the class of 1966. Frank was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and played football for four years.

He joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve while a student at URI. As a veteran, he mentored many students on the merits of serving our country and joining the U.S. Army ROTC Program. He set the example for future U.S. Army officers by his leadership skills and willingness to share his military experience with them. Frank was always teaching, sharing, listening and mentoring future military leaders. Frank graduated from URI in June 1966 with a degree in Physical Education and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps.

Upon completion of the officer basic course and flight school, 2Lt. Cuddy was assigned to the Presidential Helicopter Squadron, Quantico, Virginia, and deployed to Vietnam six months later. During his tour in Vietnam, Captain Cuddy flew 988 combat missions, was shot down twice, wounded in action and sited for bravery numerous times. He was awarded the Silver Star, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, 49 Air Medals, the Naval Commendation Medal, the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Meritorious Unit Award and the Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze Stars.

On 31 August 1969, Captain Francis J. Cuddy, USMC helicopter pilot, was cited for bravery and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Captain Cuddy 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 unit deep in a 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 and moved his aircraft into the enemy positions.

As a result of his devastating attacks, the hostile fire was suppressed sufficiently to enable the transport helicopters to safely extract the reconnaissance team. The citation for his award went on to say: “….Captain Cuddy’s courage, superior airmanship, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of great 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.”

After Captain Cuddy’s tour in Vietnam, he was assigned as a senior flight instructor, Pensacola Naval Air Station, Florida. It was there that he met and married LT (jg) Susan Carey, Nurse Corps, U.S. Navy, in November 1972. Soon after, Major Cuddy left active duty and joined the Marine Corps Reserves. Colonel Cuddy spent the remainder of his reserve career at the Naval Air Station, South Weymouth, Massachusetts. He served at various operational staff levels until he was selected as the Commander, Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 771. Colonel Cuddy held that position until he retired from the U.S. Marine Corps after serving an illustrious thirty-nine years.

Colonel Francis J. Cuddy, Jr., United States Marine Corps, Retired, died on 25 May 2008 with his family at his side after a three year battle with metastatic colon cancer. He left his wife and three sons, two of whom became US Marines. Colonel Cuddy was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, DC.

Colonel Cuddy spent his entire life serving his community and nation during peace and war. His exemplary devotion to duty, personal bravery and outstanding leadership are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the United States Marine Corps and the University of Rhode Island.