Bill Cuthbertson was born on April 30, 1915, in Denver, Colorado. After earning his bachelor's degree from Albion College in Albion, Michigan, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve V-7 Program on July 9, 1941, and went on active duty in the Navy on October 16, 1941. Cuthbertson completed his officer training at the U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipman School at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy on January 16, 1942. He then attended Submarine training aboard the submarine USS R-19 (SS-96) at Groton, Connecticut, from January to March 1942, followed by service aboard the submarine USS S-1 (SS-105) during March 1942. Ens Cuthbertson was transferred to the submarine USS Grunion (SS-216) during her fitting out at Groton in March 1942, and remained aboard after her commissioning in April 1942. He was killed in action during a confrontation with the armed Japanese freighter Kano Maru on July 30, 1942. On August 22, 2007, a search team organized by the three sons of CDR Mannert Abele (the Captain of the Grunion when she was sunk) used a remotely operated vehicle to find a sunken vessel 3,000 feet down in the Bering Sea north of Kiska Island at the tip of the Aleutian Islands. On October 1, 2008, the U.S. Navy announced that the sunken vessel is the World War II submarine USS Grunion (SS-216).
His Navy Commendation Medal Citation reads:
For meritorious conduct as a member of the crew of the U.S.S. GRUNION which destroyed three enemy destroyers while engaged in a war patrol in enemy controlled waters. Despite severe and persistent anti-submarine measures resulting from these three successful attacks, the GRUNION was brought safely through the counter attacks and continued an aggressive war patrol. As a member of the crew of the GRUNION, your performance of duty was an important and material contribution to the prosecution of this war.