Fallen: February 18, 2010
Marine Private First Class Kyle J. Coutu, from Providence, RI, was a rifleman assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Lejeune, N.C. He became a RI fallen hero at the age of 20 on February 18, 2010 while supporting combat operations in Marjah, Afghanistan.
Private First Class Coutu was a 2009 graduate of William E. Tolman High School, where he was captain of the wrestling and football teams. The principal at the time of his passing said that the 20-year-old Coutu was “one of those really good kids.” Other school administrators echoed those sentiments calling him a “good kid” and natural leader. His friends shared this same opinion and one in particular recalls that “he was always such a happy guy. 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.” His aunt described him as the “Mayor of Tolman” because he was everyone’s friend at the high school in Pawtucket.
Kyle wanted to be in the Marines since he was a freshman. In his junior year, he suffered a shoulder injury while wrestling. His big concern was it might disqualify him from serving but the rehabilitation was successful. Kyle, or “Joe” as his family affectionately called him, enlisted one week after high school graduation. He always felt that he had a greater purpose and ‘helping others’ was his mantra. Kyle touched so many lives because he was a three-season athlete. He chose to play sports known for their rugged and physical nature, from captaining the football and wrestling programs to playing hockey, and, lastly, participating in outdoor track. He was someone who embodied school spirit and took great pride in donning a Tolman uniform. How Coutu got involved in hockey was a story that his coach willingly shared. “Kyle did me a personal favor. We’re on our way back up with the program, but last year I needed bodies. That was the type of kid Kyle was – he had a lot of school pride and a lot of pride in himself.” It should be noted Coutu had never laced up a pair of skates prior to last season. “I commend him for coming out and giving the effort,” said the coach. “He came out to be our backup goaltender, and, just being the type of kid he was, he wanted to skate out and hit people. He was a tough kid.
Just shortly before heading on deployment and while home on leave, he visited the high school in his military attire to say hello before he headed to Afghanistan. The principal recalls that Kyle stating that he was a little nervous about heading overseas, but looking forward to it.
“A lot of people say things in light of (such a tragic turn of events). With Kyle, it’s all true,” added his football coach during a memorial service. “He was the epitome of what people talk about. My heart goes out to his family.”
Marine Private First Class Coutu became a hero at the age of 20 on February 18, 2010 while supporting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. In May of 2010, the football field at Tolman High School in Pawtucket was renamed to ‘PFC Kyle Joseph Couti, U.S.M.C Memorial Field.’