J.D. Cutter was born on November 23, 1940, at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He was commissioned through the Air Force ROTC program at North Carolina State College on August 27, 1962, and completed Undergraduate Pilot Training in October 1963. After completing KC-135 Stratotanker combat crew training, Cutter was assigned to the 28th Air Refueling Squadron at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, where he served from April 1964 to November 1968. During this time he flew combat missions in Southeast Asia from April to September 1966, May to June 1967, and December 1967 to June 1968. He next flew with the 911th Air Refueling Squadron at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, from November 1968 to November 1969, when he attended F-105 Thunderchief combat crew training. Capt Cutter served with the 563rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at McConnell AFB, Kansas, from August 1970 to July 1971, when he was sent to Southeast Asia as an F-105G Wild Weasel pilot. He served with the 6010th Wild Weasel Squadron flying out of Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from July 1971 until he was shot down by a surface-to-air missile and taken as a Prisoner of War on February 17, 1972. After spending 405 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on March 28, 1973. Cutter was hospitalized for his injuries at Sheppard AFB, Texas, before going back on flying status with the 526th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ramstein AFB, West Germany, where he served from February 1974 to June 1977. He then served as an instructor pilot and Assistant Operations Officer for the 434th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, from June 1977 until his retirement from the Air Force on October 31, 1982. J.D. Cutter died on September 26, 2015.
His Bronze Star Medal with Valor Citation reads:
This officer distinguished himself by heroic achievement while detained as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. Major Cutter and three fellow officers planned and executed a sabotage operation disabling five enemy supply trucks used for anti-aircraft ammunition and other supplies, by placing sugar taken from food rations in the fuel tanks. All trucks were put out of service and one engine was destroyed. These acts of sabotage were undertaken with complete disregard for personal safety in the face of severe punishment by the Vietnamese, if caught. By his heroic actions and devotion to duty, Major Cutter reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.