Special Forces Soldier
Honored in Classroom Dedication
by Sgt. Nelson Mumma Jr. FORT BRAGG, N.C., (Army News Service, Jan. 14, 1999) --
Although it didn't take great actions to define
A former Special Forces soldier died heroically saving another soldier's life.
For this action, Sgt. 1st Class Gregory D. Cardott was honored Jan. 12.
Classroom at Camp MacKall was dedicated to him by the 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne) here.
"Sgt. 1st Class Cardott was the epitome of what a Special Forces soldier is," said Col. Remo Butler, 1st SWTG (A) commander. "He was a soldiers' soldier, a friend and was loyal to the end."
The end came Jan. 12, 1995, when Cardott was shot and killed while detaining a local Haitian who had just shot his partner, Sgt. 1st Class Tommy J. Davis.
"Greg's a hero because he saved my life," said Davis, from 1st Battalion, 1st SWTG (A).
Both Cardott and Davis had been in Haiti about four months with 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) in support of Operation Uphold Democracy. On that sunny, 90-degree day in Gonaives, Haiti, about three hours drive from Port-au-Prince, the two soldiers were inspecting tollbooths they had set up to collect a road tax imposed by the local government.
But when two Haitians refused to pay the toll and proceeded past the booth, Cardott and Davis were summoned to help.
They stopped the vehicle about 200 meters past the tollbooth. When Cardott was unable to calm the visibly angered passenger, Davis began talking with him and asked him to step out of the trunk.
"It basically got to the point where we knew he wasn't coming out of the vehicle, so we decided to assist him out," said Davis, 37.
The man, though, began to struggle and kicked at Davis. As Davis grabbed the passenger's foot and dragged him out of the car, the man pulled a gun from underneath the seat.
Instead of shooting the passenger, Cardott sprayed him with pepper mace.
"I can't say why Greg didn't shoot him ... but in my mind, I think he wanted to use the least amount of violence," Davis said. "I think that action saved my life. The guy's eyes were watering and his nose was running, and I think if he could have seen clearly, he would have killed me."
While Davis and the Haitian struggled with the gun, the Haitian, who was eventually shot and killed, shot Davis through the right arm. The shot threw Davis to the back of the vehicle, and he sought cover there after a second shot nearly hit him. As Davis prepared to attack his assailant, a third shot rang out.
"I heard the third shot, but by the time I looked I didn't see anyone. I was calling for Greg, but getting no response."
Cardott, who would have turned 37 years old the next day, was lying unconscious on the ground with a bullet through his heart. He died two hours later.
Back in Fayetteville, N.C., Darlene Cardott-Ciciora, Cardott's wife, saw a report of the incident on television and knew Greg died before she was told. Although she grew up in a military family -- her father was a SF soldier who served four tours in Vietnam -- nothing prepared her for her husband's death.
"I lived through that time wondering if daddy would come home, and I never imagined my husband wouldn't come home," Ciciora said.
"He used to tell me all the time, 'If anything happens to me, don't be one of those wives who gives the Army (problems), because this is my job.' He knew the chance he was taking."
For Ciciora, every time a soldier steps into the Gregory D. Cardott Memorial Classroom, they can remember who Cardott was.
"He was the epitome of what they need to be," she said. "And I believe they all are."
In the Army, Cardott was an operations and intelligence sergeant with company A, 3rd Battalion, 3rd SFG (A).
"Greg was a very quiet professional," Davis said. "He was always on top of everything."
Personally, though, everyone who spoke of Cardott mentioned his lively personality and sense of humor. "One memory I'll always have of Greg is his boxer shorts," said Davis. "You see this tough SF guys in his BDUs (battle dress uniform), and then he's changing and standing there in his Tweetie Bird or Bugs Bunny boxers."
"He always had us laughing," Ciciora said.
Although Cardott's laughter has faded, his memory won't.
"I think of Greg everyday," Ciciora said. "I will never forget him ... and I don't want others to forget him either."
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