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John Edward Cutshall

SGT in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co C


Born 1911 in NC, Died 1990


County of residence at enlistment: Buncombe County, NC
Other residence(s): Belva, NC; Asheville, NC; Boone, NC; Baltimore, MD; Augusta, GA; Franklin, NC; several additional military postings
United States Army, did not accompany the unit to Europe
Occupation before the war: police officer
College education after the war: Maryland Fine Arts Institute; Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
Notes: Career military man and a member of other domestic units both before and after the 603rd; finished his career in Military Police with rank of CPT
Source: 603rd Camouflage Engineer Roster provided by W. Anderson; Company C roster; photo from Asheville NC Citizen-Times, 27 Jan 1944

John Cutshall was born on November 16, 1911 in Belva, NC, the older of two children. His father was a laborer for the railroad. At some point the family moved to the Biltmore district of Asheville, NC and John graduated from Biltmore High School. He married Jessie Mae Wyatt on March 3, 1929 before he turned 18.

John spent several years working for "local highway shops" in Boone, NC (possibly as a highway sign painter). He enlisted in the army in the late summer of 1933; that October he wrote a letter to the editor of the Boone newspaper about his military experience. "I go out for boxing, wrestling and any sport that comes up. We have beer parties and dances every Friday night, the US Army band gives us plenty of music. . . . If any of you fellows are going to join the Army come to the 17th Field Artillery at Fort Bragg. It is the best outfit in the Army."

A 1934 newspaper article says that John, still at Fort Bragg, was "winning considerable notice as a cartoonist. A piece of his work will appear in the next issue of 'Our Army.' Mr. Cutshall has been taking instructions from Robert M. King, one of the country's leading cartoonists."

His first three-year enlistment was up in 1936, and he left the Army. By the time he registered for the draft, on October 16, 1940, he had become a police officer for the city of Asheville.

John re-enlisted on October 19, 1942 and this time was assigned to the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion with the rank of CPL, possibly because of his artistic skills. That Thanksgiving he won the battalion championship in close order and manual of arms drill, won second place in tent pitching, and qualified as a sharpshooter on the rifle range.

In January, 1943 he was promoted to Staff SGT, still with the 603rd. But a year later, with the rank of 1st SGT, he was in a different unit, likely on the west coast, and had a chance to tour the Walt Disney studios, a thrill for the Army cartoonist.

After the war he re-enlisted on November 6, 1945, and married his second wife, Geraldine Cairnes Barber, on January 10, 1946 in Chihuahua, Mexico.

In 1946 he was assigned to an Army recruiting job in Baltimore, working in the art department. From 1946 to 1952 he illustrated a series of historical incidents involving the US Army; these cartoons were carried by over 600 newspapers around the country.

Syndicated cartoon from 1948

Syndicated cartoon from 1948

In 1948, having enlisted for another term, he served as editor of Recruiting Digest, a service publication at Fort Meade, and also as chief artist for the Second Army. Sometime during his Maryland years, he attended the Maryland Fine Arts Institute; he also studied at the Fine Arts Center in Colorado Springs.

In 1950, he was transferred to the Military Police School at Camp (later Fort) Gordon in Georgia; he and Gerrie took up residence in Augusta. In that role, as a member of the Military Police Board, he wrote lesson plans for all phases of criminal investigation, illustrating them with his own drawings. He also served at the base as provost marshal and prison camp commander. He continued drawing and painting outside of his MP job as well—winning second and third place in a Combat Intelligence poster contest in the summer of 1952. Meanwhile, Gerrie worked as a photo retoucher.

John left the military on April 15, 1953 with the rank of CPT, and spent the rest of the year taking accounting and business courses in Florida. In December, 1953, he parlayed his MP experience into a job running the Polk County (NC) prison camp. By 1956, he'd become the superintendent of the Macon County (NC) prison camp for youthful offenders; he continued to draw newspaper cartoons for the Franklin (NC) Press.

By 1962 he was back at Fort Gordon, this time as a civilian employee, working as artist-illustrator for Post Training Aids. From 1965 until at least 1970 he served as supervisor of the art department there, and two of his paintings ("The Battle of Gettysburg" and "Custer's Last Stand") were displayed at the base.

Sometime in the 1970s John retired, and he and Gerrie eventually moved back to Franklin, NC. John became active in the Masons, the VFW, and the American Legion as well as at All Souls Episcopal Church in Biltmore. Gerrie died in 1986, and John was married again, to a woman named Margaret.

John died on July 27, 1990 and is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Asheville, NC.


1944 in uniform (see 1944 article below)


1920 census

1929 marriage record

1930 census

1933 article in the Watauga Democrat (Boone NC) about his leaving Boone to join the Army

1933 letter to the editor in the Watauga Democrat (Boone NC) about his military experience at Fort Bragg

1934 article in the Watauga Democrat (Boone NC) about his military experience

1940 census

1940 draft card

1943 Asheville NC City Directory

1943 article in Asheville Citizen-Times (NC) about his military career

1944 article in Asheville Citizen-Times (NC) about his military career

1946 Chihuahua, Mexico marriage record (2nd marriage)

1946 article in Asheville Citizen-Times (NC) about his military career

1948 North Carolina Statement of Service Records

1948 cartoon of his in Montgomery County Sentinel (Rockville MD)

1950 census

1952 article in the Asheville Citizen-Times (NC) about his military career

1952 article in the Asheville Citizen-Times (NC) about his cartooning and military experience

1953 article in The News and Observer (Raleigh NC) about his leaving the military and his new civilian job

1956 article in The Franklin Press (NC) about his artwork (includes photo)

1970 article in the Augusta Chronicle (GA) about his life and career

1990 Social Security Applications and Claims Index

1990 VA death record

1990 obituary in Asheville Citizen-Times (NC),0.32799098,0.6503519,0.49679396&xid=3355&_ga=2.87320093.464752279.1679273102-1265375980.1679273102

1990 Find a Grave record (listed under his wife's name)

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