– Ron Francis
, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today issued the following statement on the passing of United States Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Michael A. Cathcart. Cathcart, who skated with the Hurricanes during a special practice at Fort Bragg last season, died as a result of injuries sustained during combat operations on Friday in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan.
“We are deeply saddened to hear that we’ve lost Sgt. Cathcart,” said Francis. “The day that Mike practiced with our team at Cleland Ice Rink at Fort Bragg was a very special day for our players.
People throw around the word ‘hero’ too easily sometimes, but Mike Cathcart was a true hero. He proudly served our country and died protecting our safety and freedom. We are grateful for that day we were able to spend with him and the impact he left on our team. On behalf of the Hurricanes organization, I send heartfelt condolences to his family and his unit.”
Hurricanes captain Eric Staal added: “It was an honor to share the ice with Mike that day. Mike had already been seriously injured in the line of duty, but he was determined to return to active duty. My teammates and I will never forget his sacrifice.”
Originally from Bay City, MI, Cathcart, 31, was assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, NC, and was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. It was his fifth deployment with the battalion, known as Bushmen, to Afghanistan. Cathcart first enlisted in the Army in June 2001, and served for five years in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), including two combat tours in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He volunteered for Special Forces in 2007, and joined the Bushmen in in September 2009 after completing his training. Cathcart’s awards and decorations include four Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart Medal and four Army Commendation Medals.
The Hurricanes’ practice in Fort Bragg was made possible in conjunction with the Special Forces Charitable Trust and Defending the Blue Line. The Special Forces Charitable Trust provides personalized services, support and advocacy for U.S. Army Special Forces and their families. For more information or to make a donation, please visit http://www.specialforcescharitabletrust.org/. Defending the Blue Line seeks to ensure that children of military members are afforded opportunities to participate in ice hockey. For more information or to make a donation, please visit http://www.defendingtheblueline.org/.