Frisco Man Killed While Serving in Afghanistan
03:45 PM CST on Saturday, February 14, 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
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
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
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
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."
Crowd Gathers at
Addison Airport to Honor Fallen Frisco Soldier
AM CST on Wednesday, February 18, 2009
ADDISON – His parents
wanted to honor their son, to have the public witness his return from the
war in Afghanistan. As a chartered jet sped ever closer to home, bearing
the body of U.S. Army Cpl. Peter Courcy, the soldier's mother and father
drifted Tuesday among the solemn at Addison Airport. With hugs, soft words
and a few tears, they shared a few moments of peace. "I appreciate
everyone coming out," said Chris Bush, Courcy's father, returning to his
family and the business at hand.
At 12:34 p.m., the plane taxied from
a runway. It rolled beneath an American flag whipped by a chilling wind
and stretched between the extended ladders of two fire trucks. And it came
to rest before Courcy's parents, wife, 5-month-old son and hundreds of
family, friends and strangers. They had come to pay respects to a
22-year-old Frisco High School graduate killed in a suicide bombing as he
neared the end of a yearlong tour of duty. Some carried flags. Cameras
caught the moments. Several of Courcy's hockey teammates at Frisco High
wore blue, red and yellow jerseys.
One, John Bullis Jr., tried to put the loss of his close friend into
context. "He had a lot of options, but I always understood what he wanted
to do," he said. "He wanted to serve and protect us. He died doing what he
Lisa Mahaffey brightened as she recalled her high school classmate. "He
could always put a smile on your face," she said. She came for his
homecoming for a simple reason: "I knew him. He was a good person. He
would have enjoyed this," she said.
Standing alone, Al Kraft said he never met Courcy. "I just felt this was
someplace I needed to be," said the Garland resident, tears seeping from
his eyes. "It was the least I could do. We can sure support the people
trying to make things better," he said. "We don't realize how lucky we are
to live here, and there's a lot of people making it that way."
The crowd stood still and silent, some with hand on heart, as the plane's
side doors rose. An honor guard placed the wooden, flag-draped coffin on a
gurney. The family gathered around for prayer. And with uniformed officers
saluting, the coffin was placed in a hearse. The traffic-stopping
procession to a funeral home in Lewisville included 36 members of th
Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle club that supports the families of
fallen military personnel. Along the way, people paused to watch the
passing vehicles, half a world away from the fighting in Afghanistan. Some
saluted. Others waved flags. Children at a Lewisville school pressed their
faces to a playground fence. Tiny flags lined Edmonds Lane near the
funeral home, where the coffin, family and friends were united.
Courcy's mother, Mary, knelt first before the wooden box, sobbing and
rubbing its flag. His wife, Mara, followed, leaving their son, Anthony,
briefly in the care of others.
A Mass for Courcy will begin at 10 a.m. today at St. Ann Catholic Church,
180 Samuel Blvd. in Coppell. Burial will follow at Dallas-Fort Worth
National Cemetery in Dallas.