UMaine ROTC graduate killed in Iraq
By Associated Press
Thursday, June 30, 2005 - Updated: 01:23 PM EST
ORONO, Maine - A 2004 University of Maine graduate who was the cadet commander of the Army ROTC battalion in his senior year has been killed in Iraq.
Second Lt. Matthew Coutu, 23, of North Kingstown, R.I., was killed Monday in Baghdad when enemy forces engaged his convoy with small arms fire, the Defense Department said Wednesday.
Coutu, who was assigned to a military police unit, was remembered by a member of the university's Military Science Department as a natural leader who inspired confidence and served as a mentor to the younger cadets.
``Matt was an exceptional young man,'' Capt. Jeffrey Weston said. ``It's easy at times like this to toss around all sorts of superlatives, but Matt was head and shoulders above his peers. He was one of those guys who was larger than life, and he just stuck out.''
A distinguished military graduate, Coutu received the George C. Marshall Award, which is given to the top cadet at each university. He was a history major and graduated with a 3.4 grade point average, Weston said. UMaine President Robert Kennedy said the community was saddened to learn of Coutu's death. ``He was an outstanding member of the UMaine community, and we will honor and always remember his selfless service to our country,'' he said.
Coutu graduated from high school in Illinois, where he was the captain of the football, wrestling and track teams at Lake Forest High School before graduating in 2000, said principal Jay Hoffmann. ``He was a great guy, both in the classroom and outside,'' said Hoffmann. ``He was kind of a man's man, an all-around great guy in all avenues.''
Hoffmann said a group of about 20 of Coutu's classmates gathered Tuesday night and called his mother who confirmed that he had been killed. Coutu's older brother, Derek, graduated from Lake Forest High School in 1998, he said.
Coutu is survived by his mother, Donna, who lives in North Kingstown, and his father, Michael, of North Hampton, N.H.
Michael Coutu told The Boston Globe that he is taking some comfort in the realization that his son was so well regarded. He said he even took notes as his son's battalion commander, an Army colonel, told him how hard his son's death was hitting his fellow troops.
``Matthew was his best platoon leader ... someone who earned the admiration and respect of his fellow officers and the men who served under him,'' Michasel Coutu said, reading from the notes. His ``loss will be grieved no less than that of a brother, parent, spouse or friend.''
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
2nd Lt. Matthew S. Coutu, 23, of North Kingstown, R.I., died June 27 in Baghdad, Iraq, where enemy forces engaged his convoy with small arms fire. Coutu was assigned to the 64th Military Police Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas.
Soldier with ties to NH killed
By SCOTT BROOKS
Union Leader Staff
A North Hampton family is in mourning for a Rhode Island soldier, 2nd Lt. Matthew Coutu, killed Monday in Iraq.
The 23-year-old died in Baghdad when enemy forces engaged his convoy with small arms fire, the Defense Department said yesterday. Coutu's father, Michael Coutu, lives in North Hampton and is the former CEO of two insurance management companies in Manchester and Portsmouth.
2nd Lt. Matthew Coutu was shot Monday by a sniper while investigating a car bombing in Baghdad. "Matthew wanted to be in the military from when he was very young," said Michael Coutu's domestic partner, Joanne Meyer. "He was very loyal to his country and felt that it was the right thing to do.
"He literally helped fight the war for each and every one of us," she said yesterday.
In Baghdad, Coutu was part of a military police force training local Iraqi law enforcers, Meyer said. He was shot Monday by a sniper while investigating a car bombing, she said.
The family expects his body to be sent home to Rhode Island next week. Coutu's mother, Donna, lives in North Kingstown, R.I.
Meyer said the family was in "shock and disbelief" last night.
"No parent should ever have to experience the loss of a child," she said.
"I know that Matthew's father has been getting e-mails from all of Matthew's friends saying they just can't believe it," Meyer said. "The outpouring of support from Matthew's friends has been just unbelievable."
Coutu attended high school in Lake Forest, Ill., where he played on the football, wrestling and track teams, Meyer said.
He went on to enroll in the University of Maine, where he was cadet commander of the Army ROTC battalion during his senior year.
Coutu was remembered by a member of the university's Military Science Department as a natural leader who inspired confidence and served as a mentor to the younger cadets.
"Matt was an exceptional young man," Capt. Jeffrey Weston said. "It's easy at times like this to toss around all sorts of superlatives, but Matt was head and shoulders above his peers. He was one of those guys who was larger than life, and he just stuck out."
A distinguished military graduate, Coutu received the George C. Mitchell Award, which is given to the top cadet at each university. He was a history major and graduated with a 3.4 grade point average, Weston said.
UMaine President Robert Kennedy said the community was saddened to learn of Coutu's death. "He was an outstanding member of the UMaine community, and we will honor and always remember his selfless service to our country," he said.
Coutu graduated in May 2004 and went on to attend basic training in Missouri, Meyer said. He was deployed to Kuwait last February and relocated to Baghdad the following month, she said.
Michael Coutu was the CEO of RiverStone Resources LLC, a Manchester company that helps settle insurance claims. He later served as CEO of Kenning Financial Advisors LLC, based in Portsmouth.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This article is from the New Hampshire Union Leader and is available at http://www.theunionleader.com/articles_showa.html?article=57032
Task Force Baghdad Soldier dies
BAGHDAD , Iraq -- A Task Force Baghdad Soldier died June 27 from wounds sustained during a small-arms fire attack in central Baghdad around 10:15 a.m.
The Soldier's unit had incorrectly been identified in a previous press release.
The Soldier's unit was assisting Iraqi Police at the scene of a vehicle fire when it came under attack from terrorists. The Soldier was evacuated to the 86th Combat Support Hospital where he later died of his injuries.
The name of the Soldier is being held pending notification of next of kin. The incident is under investigation.
Maine Campus - News
University cadet takes top ROTC honor
By Ernest Scheyder and Heather Cox
Recently University of Maine student Matthew Coutu, a senior in the Reserve Office Training Corps, received that organization's highest honor, the George C. Mitchell award. Coutu, a senior history major, found out that he would be receiving the award over Winter Break. The Mitchell award is given to the highest-ranked senior at each ROTC unit across the nation. Currently there are nine seniors in the ROTC program scheduled to graduate this May. There are numerous criteria for the award, including academics, physical fitness and battalion leadership, according to an ROTC press release.
"It's the highest award you can receive in ROTC," Coutu said. Coutu will be attending a national conference in Lexington, Va. in April to receive the award and will be meeting with numerous military officials at the conference including national ROTC officials and Army generals, he said.
"It's a learning experience, but it's also a collaboration," Coutu said of the conference. After graduation, Coutu plans on being commissioned a second lieutenant in the army and entering training to join the military police. Coutu says he is honored to receive the award and feels this is an acknowledgment of his hard work since joining the battalion his freshman year.
"It's more a recognition of the hard work you've done ," Coutu said.
Many of Coutu's peers in the UMaine ROTC battalion are in support of actions and agree that he was the right recipient for the award.
"He's worked real hard throughout his career here and he's definitely earned it," senior Public Management major and fellow ROTC cadet Adrian Cole said.
The UMaine ROTC leadership was also behind Coutu, and nominated him when applications were due. Capt. Tim Shaffer said that Coutu's performance as battalion commander coupled with his academic record and the fact that Coutu serves as the student representative on the ROTC faculty advisory committee and scholarship boards make him a worthy recipient
"He's put a lot more into the program than just being a cadet. He embodies the trait the military ... well, anyone would look for," Shaffer said.
"He's our number one cadet and was our number one choice," Lt. Josef Hallatschek of UMaine ROTC said. Hallatschek said selection for the battalion's nomination began last year when this current graduating class was in its junior year. Then, Coutu along with other ROTC students attended the National Advanced Leadership Camp, an event organized for all ROTC cadets throughout the nation. While there, Coutu ranked 271 out of approximately 4,600 cadets overall. Hallatschek cited this as a prime reason Coutu was chosen. However, Hallatschek said Coutu has been at the top of his list for quite some time.
"There was no doubt in our minds he was going to be our number one cadet," Hallatschek said.