FRISCO, TX, USA U.S. Army CPL, COMPANY D, 2D BATTALION, 506TH INFANTRY, 4 BCT, FORT CAMPBELL, KY SALERNO, AFGHANISTAN 02/10/2009
On the ice hockey rink and wrestling mat, Peter John Courcy battled for Frisco High School with power and authority. He joined the fight last year on the sands and in the mountains of Afghanistan, living a lifelong dream of military service. Now his family, friends and respectful strangers are mourning his death – weeks before his scheduled return to North Texas and his parents, wife and infant son.
U.S. Army Specialist Courcy, 22, and a fellow soldier died Tuesday when a car packed with explosives plowed into their convoy-leading Humvee near the American base at Salerno.
“I lost a piece of my soul that day,” his squad leader, Sergeant Bruce Hunter, said Friday, recalling the midmorning attack and remembering a friend who always wanted to man the lead .50-caliber machine gun on patrols. “He knew the dangers. He knew the risks. But he did it every day,” said Sergeant Hunter.
Born at Fort Hood in Central Texas, Peter Courcy “always wanted to be in the military,” said his father, Chris Bush of Frisco. In a 2003 interview with The Dallas Morning News, he talked of two role models: his grandfather, Ernest Courcy, a Vietnam War veteran, now retired in Coppell, and his uncle Daniel Colasanto, a Garland police officer, who served in the Persian Gulf War.
Team Leadership was his favorite class. “We’re going to elementary schools and helping little kids and being role models for them,” he said. And he talked of applying to West Point.
At Fort Hood, where he lived with his mother and role-model grandfather, young Peter began playing roller hockey. After moving to Frisco in the eighth grade, he took up ice hockey and wrestling, excelling in both sports in high school. “He was an exceptional kid, very mature for his age,” said hockey coach John Bullis, recalling his second-leading scorer and assistant captain. “He was quiet, but he garnered respect. He was the glue for the hockey team.”
In the halls of Frisco High School, he showed a strength of spirit, said former principal Rick Burnett. “He had a smile on his face every day. You could tell things were good with him,” Mr. Burnett said. “He had a presence.”
Specialist Courcy was also a calming influence, Rafal Gerszak, a photojournalist from Toronto embedded with his platoon, said Friday. “He never got angry at anybody, always had a smile on his face, and cheered everybody else up during the hard times,” he wrote in an e-mail. “He was very excited to go back home in a few weeks and spend time with his baby and wife.”
Spc. Courcy got to spend time with his wife, Mara, and newborn son, Anthony, while home on leave in September. In camp, he talked often of his son, Sergeant Hunter said, and planned to make sure he was a Dallas Cowboys nut like his father. The proud father was due to end his one-year Afghanistan tour next month. He had signed on for another five years of service, hoping to join the Special Forces.
Now his family awaits the return of his body – and word from the military on when that will be.
In addition to his wife, his son and his father, Specialist Courcy is survived by his mother, Mary Bush of Frisco, and an infant brother, Luke Bush. In time, they plan to have a memorial service at St. Ann Catholic Church in Coppell with burial at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery in Dallas, his father said. “We’d love to have a lot of people come out when he comes home,” he said. “Pete deserves that.”