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Decorated Fort Bragg Green Beret killed in Afghanistan

This undated photo released Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. 1st Class Michael Cathcart. Cathcart, a 31-year-old Green Beret from Bay City, Mich. who served two tours of duty in Iraq, was killed Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 during combat operations in Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon.

AP PHOTO/U.S. ARMY

By PAUL WOOLVERTON | The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer (MCT) | Published: November 16, 2014

A Fort Bragg soldier was killed in action in Afghanistan on Friday, the Department of Defense announced late Saturday.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael A. Cathcart, 31, of Bay City, Mich., died in Kunduz Province, which is in northern Afghanistan, of wounds received from small-arms fire while on dismounted combat operations, the department said.

The Green Beret was assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). This was Cathcart's fifth deployment with the battalion, known as the Bushmen, to Afghanistan.

The unit "lost one of our nation's finest," said Cathcart's battalion commander, Lt. Col. Michael Sullivan in an email. Cathcart "died a true warrior with his fellow teammates at his side," Sullivan said.

Cathcart's unit will remember him for his love of the hockey rink and for his contagious smile, Sullivan said.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Mike in the coming days, weeks, and months ahead," Sullivan wrote.

Cathcart skated with the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team during a special practice at Fort Bragg last season, the team said on Sunday.

“We are deeply saddened to hear that we’ve lost Sgt. Cathcart,” said Ron Francis, the team's executive vice president and general manager. “The day that Mike practiced with our team at Cleland Ice Rink at Fort Bragg was a very special day for our players."

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.”

Cathcart enlisted in the Army in June 2001 as a Fire Support Specialist and served more than five years with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he served for more than five years. He had two combat tours to Iraq.

The Army said Cathcart volunteered for the Special Forces in 2007, and after his training he joined the 3rd Special Forces Group in 2009 as a senior engineer sergeant.

His many awards and decorations include three Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart Medal, four Army Commendation Medals and two Army Achievement Medals.

The Army has posthumously awarded Cathcart his fourth Bronze Star Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.

©2014 The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.