On this Memorial Day weekend, The Washington Pundit pauses to bring you some of the personal stories of fallen heroes who we tragically lost while serving our country. Please join us in honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice by learning their personal story.
On the morning of June 27, 2005, U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Matthew S. Coutu led a three vehicle convoy from the Rustamiyah Forward Operating Base to Al-Adhamiyah Iraqi Police Station in central Baghdad when the convoy came upon a burning vehicle on the highway leading into Baghdad. Following standard procedures, Matt set up defensive perimeter around the vehicle to investigate.
While standing in the open door of his Humvee directing the investigation, a lone sniper found its mark, shooting Matt in his lower back. His men pulled him to the other side of the Humvee out of harm’s way and lifted him into the rear seat. As Matt was being placed in the vehicle he said,
They shot me in the back, Sgt. Lucas.2nd Lt. Matthew Coutu’s last words to a brother in arms
The convoy immediately collapsed the security perimeter and drove to an Army Aid Station five minutes away for initial medical treatment. He was carried on a stretcher inside the station in pain but alive. The medics immediately examined Matt and called for a Medevac helicopter. It arrived in 15 minutes and transported him to Corp Army Support Hospital in Baghdad. Doctors spent the next 45 minutes attempting to revive him but could not and he was pronounced dead at 11:18 a.m. local time. A chaplain was summoned and prayed for Matt. On July 7, 2005, Matt was laid to rest with full military honors at the Veterans’ Cemetery, Exeter, Rhode Island in front of loving and grieving family and friends.
Born in Freehold, New Jersey on November 6, 1981, Matthew S. Coutu Matt would later moved to Illinois and would graduate in 2000 from Lake Forest High School where he would be a three-sport letterman and captaining the football, wrestling, and track teams in addition to earning a black belt in martial arts. His principal Jay Hoffman would say about Matt,
He was a great guy, both in the classroom and outside. He was kind of man’s man, all-around great guy in all avenues~ Jay Hoffman, Princpal at Lake Forest (IL) High School
Matt had a lifelong fascination with all things military. So it came as no surprise that when college selection came into view, he limited the choice to those offering a ROTC program leading to becoming a commissioned officer, ultimately choosing the University of Maine at Orono.
He completed the Army ROTC program in exemplar fashion and was awarded the George C. Marshall Award as the top cadet and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on May 7, 2004 as well as being on the Dean’s List all 4 years.
With the long term goal of a career in either the Secret Service or the FBI, Matt changed his military occupation to serve as a military police officer, graduating top of his class from the Military Police Officer Basic Course in Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. Following graduation, he was assigned as a Platoon Leader to 64th Military Police Company, Fort Hood, TX. Matt and his unit were subsequently deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on February 10, 2005.
In honor of Matt, the Army created the Second Lieutenant Matthew S. Coutu Award for Distinguished Honor Graduate awarded to the top student of each graduating class at the Military Police Basic Officer Course. At the February 6, 2006 inaugural ceremony of the award, Lt. Colonel Robert Taradash, Matt’s battalion commander in Iraq, described Matt in this dedication speech.
Matt was a young man who loved to lead Soldiers; who lived by the Warrior Creed and Army Values; loved and lived his life without hesitation; and epitomized heroism. From the moment that I met him, I recognized that Matt led his Soldiers from the front and put every ounce of his being into leading his Soldiers.~ Lt. Col Robert Taradash, Commanding Officer of the 720th Military Police Battalion
Among his awards and medals, Matt posthumously received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Matt is survived by his mother Donna Coutu-Freeland, father Michael Coutu, stepmother Joanne Meyer, and siblings Derek, Andrew, and Holly.
His loss will be grieved no less than that of a brother, parent, spouse or dear friend. He was an exemplary role model to all in this (Army) family.~ Lt. Col Robert Taradash, Commanding Officer of the 720th Military Police Battalion
On this Memorial Day weekend, TWP sends our most heartfelt thanks and prayers to 2nd Lt. Matthew S. Coutu and his family for their sacrifice on behalf of the Greatest Nation on Earth and the Hope of All Mankind.