PROVIDENCE, RI, US
U.S. Marine Corps
PFC, 3D BN, 6TH MAR, ( RCT-7, MEB-A FWD) 2D MAR DIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC
02/18/2010, MARJEH, AFGHANISTAN
The football field at Tolman High School in Pawtucket is being renamed in honor of a former player and Marine who died in Afghanistan. The Times of Pawtucket reports that the school committee unanimously voted earlier in March to name the field after Private First Class Kyle Coutu.
The 20-year-old Coutu was a 2009 Tolman graduate and football captain who was killed on Feb. 18 during combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was also captain of the wrestling team in high school.
School administrators described him as a “good kid” and natural leader.
About 150 people gathered May 28 to dedicate the Tolman High School field to Private First Class Kyle Coutu, who was killed in Afghanistan in February. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said the field was a place where Coutu developed leadership skills that made him a brave Marine. Coutu’s mother, Melissa Coutu, addressed the audience and said her son continued to amaze his family and make them proud.
The City of Pawtucket declared the day as U.S. Marine Private First Class Kyle Coutu Day.
Seconds after Kyle’s funeral had ended, Private First Class Jeff DaSilva – dressed in his National Guard uniform – stood in the basement of the St. Teresa of the Child Jesus Church early Friday afternoon and explained his sadness about saying goodbye to a beloved pal. “We used to hang out, go to parties, talk in the hallways,” stated DaSilva, a former Tolman High classmate, of U.S. Marine Corps Private First Class Rifleman Kyle Joseph Coutu, who was killed in Afghanistan on Feb. 17, two days after his 20th birthday.
“I was close to him because we had so many mutual friends; he was always such a happy guy,” he added. “If I was down in the dumps, he knew how to cheer me up. He just had that vibe where everyone wanted to be around him. People knew he would make them feel special, wanted.
Helping others. Call that the mantra served during a beautifully-scripted, full military funeral Mass held for Coutu. Attendees included not only hundreds of family members (and the Coutu clan is huge), friends and fellow soldiers but also Gov. Donald Carcieri; U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse; Attorney General Patrick Lynch; State Sen. Edward O’Neill; and Mayor James E. Doyle, to name a few.
So many flocked to the church, Fr. Joe Paquette’s staff had prepared the basement, where mourners could view the memorial service held above on a 54-inch TV screen. Tolman students, some waving flags, were allowed to leave after lunch to line Exchange Street. They did so to issue a final “So long” and “Go Tigers!” to their fallen alumnus).
“It was amazing,” said THS junior Kayla Williams, who sobbed quietly in mom Lori Ritcey’s arms. “I don’t think it could’ve gone any better than that. So many people adored Kyle. He was a one-of-a-kind guy who could light up the room with his smile. It was infectious.
During his homily Father Paquette stated he too had questions about Kyle’s death but added:
“The gospel is ‘We will be judged on the love we have given!” he added. “Today, we celebrate a young man you all knew and loved, Kyle Joseph Coutu, a young man who loved much and gave much. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, ‘It’s not the length of your life, but the quality of life that you lived that is important.”