- 22 years old
- Date of birth: Jul 25, 1986
- Date of passing: Feb 10, 2009
|Let the memory of Peter be with us forever|
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 Spc. 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, Sgt. 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 Sgt. Hunter, whose mother and grandparents live in the Collin County city of Princeton.
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."
After high school, he played amateur hockey for the Dallas Ice Hawks before enlisting in the Army in 2006. The next year, Spc. Courcy joined his 101st Airborne Division unit at Fort Campbell, Ky., and arrived in Afghanistan last March with the 4th Platoon, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment. There he built bonds as a leader who brought a sense of stability and ease.
"He was one of the goofiest guys I ever met," said Sgt. Hunter, recalling the "stupid movie quotes" that would flow from his friend's mouth and how the sound of his telephone, with its disco ringtone, would get the unit dancing.
Spc. 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, Sgt. 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, Spc. 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."
In Afghanistan, his platoon remains mindful of their losses and ever-present threats, Sgt. Hunter said. "We're fighting for the Courcys and everyone else" killed in action, he said. "And we won't stop until we get orders to get home."
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