All my life my Air Force dad said that military people are trained to override their instinct and do their duty. If someone is drowning, you save them. If someone is pinned down by the enemy, you go to them. You don’t wait for the cavalry. You are the cavalry. You are the Marines. You know you are one of the most skilled, most able, best-trained individuals in the country. So you go and you do.
I think that is what CW2 Edward Cantrell must have done. Cantrell, 36, and and his wife jumped from a second story window to escape their burning house. Their little girls, age 4 and 6, were trapped in the building. Cantrell, a member of Army Special Forces, wrapped himself in a blanket and re-entered the burning home in Hope Mills, NC. Cantrell and his daughters died in the blaze.
I am sure there will be people who say that Cantrell never should have gone back into the house. He should have waited for the firefighters. Maybe. Somehow I don’t see how he could have done anything else. I don’t know how he could have overridden his training and suddenly believed that someone better was coming to the rescue.
I know that is foolish in the face of a fire. Not even a Green Beret is more powerful than a swift-moving fire. Yet in that moment, I am sure that Edward Cantrell was going by instinct to save his daughters. He was going by his training. I don’t think we ever appreciate how strong that training our military members undergo must be. It is more than uniform-deep. It is more than flesh. That kind of identity goes to the bone.
There is no easy answer to this kind of tragedy. My heart goes out to the Cantrell family for they have lived with valor.We can all see that so much more than valor and instinct and training will be needed in the days to come.
Navy wife Jacey Eckhart is Editor of SpouseBuzz and author of I Married a Spartan?? The Care and Feeding of Your Military Marriage available on iTunes, Amazon, and on www.jaceyeckhart.com.