Green Beret Dies Trying to Save Daughters From Fire

CWO2 Edward Cantrell, a decorated Special Forces veteran, died trying to save his daughters Isabella and Natalia from a house fire.

How truly awful:

AP (“Special Forces soldier dies trying to save NC kids“):

A decorated Green Beret who returned from his fifth deployment to Afghanistan last summer died Tuesday trying to rescue his two young daughters from their burning home near Fort Bragg. The girls were also killed in the blaze.

Edward Cantrell and his wife escaped from the 1 a.m. blaze by jumping from the home’s second floor, the Cumberland County sheriff’s office said. Cantrell then wrapped himself in a blanket and re-entered the burning home in Hope Mills, about 10 miles from the Army base that is home to the Green Berets and other Special Forces units, sheriff’s spokeswoman Debbie Tanna said.

Cantrell, 36, was trying to reach 6-year-old Isabella and 4-year-old Natalia, who were trapped in second-floor bedrooms, Tanna said. ”He never made it back out,” Tanna said. Firefighters found their bodies inside the home, Tanna said.

Truly tragic. Although, to be honest, I’m not sure I’d want to make it out if my little girls didn’t.

Cantrell was a member of the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg. He held the rank of chief warrant officer 2, which authorized Cantrell to lead half of his 12-member Green Beret team if it was split up, said Lt. Col. April Olsen, a spokeswoman for Army Special Forces Command.

Cantrell joined the Army in 1994 and had one combat deployment to Iraq and five to Afghanistan, returning from the last mission in August, Olsen said. His record included four Bronze Stars and one Purple Heart, awarded for wounds suffered in a war zone, Olsen said. Details of the acts that earned the medals were not immediately available, she said.

“There are no words to express the sorrow felt in our close-knit community when a family suffers such a tragedy,” the command said on its Facebook page.

No, there aren’t. Chief Cantrell died as he lived, putting his life on the line in the service of others.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, Obituaries, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DGH says:

    Thanks, Jim, for sharing this. Still keeping you and your girls in our thoughts.

  2. ernieyeball says:

    RIP…condolences to mom. A hell of a way to find out how brave your man is.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    He wouldn’t have been able to live with himself if he didn’t try. Horribly sad.

  4. Franklin says:

    Although, to be honest, I’m not sure I’d want to make it out if my little girls didn’t.

    Yup, he had no plans to come out without them. I suspect that if the best he could do was throw them through the window before succumbing himself, that’s what he would have done.

    Geez, this makes me feel sick for the mother and any extended family.