Saturday, April 22, 2006

Army Pvt. Michael E. Bouthot

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pvt. Michael E. Bouthot, 19, of Fall River, Mass.

Pvt Bouthot was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 67th Armored Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died of injuries sustained April 22 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee causing a fire during combat operations in Baghdad. Also killed were: Pfc. Jacob H. Allcott, Sgt. Kyle A. Colnot and Spc. Eric D. King. -- FALL RIVER — When Army Pvt. Michael E. Bouthot was a senior at Diman Regional Vocational-Technical High School, he had two wishes, school officials said.

He was determined to earn his diploma to make his mother proud, and he wanted to serve his country.

On Saturday — two years after his graduation from Diman Voc-Tech — the 19-year-old, along with three other soldiers, died when an improvised explosive device detonated near their armored vehicle. The explosion caused a fire as they were on combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq, the Department of Defense reported yesterday.

Killed in addition to Pvt. Bouthot were Sgt. Kyle A. Colnot, 23, of Arcadia, Calif.; Spc. Eric D. King, 29, of Vancouver, Wash.; and Pfc. Jacob H. Allcott, 21, of Caldwell, Idaho. All four soldiers were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 67th Armored Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Pvt. Bouthot is the eighth soldier from Southeastern Massachusetts to die in the Iraq war and the second this month. Marine Lance Corporal Patrick J. Gallagher of Fairhaven died April 2.

While at Diman, Mr. Bouthot was a student in the culinary arts program and his teachers felt he had a future in the business.

"He had all the tools, all the training for it," said Brian S. Bentley, assistant superintendent and director/principal at Diman.

But instead of working in the food industry, Pvt. Bouthot "wanted to go into the military to make his country proud," Mr. Bentley said.

Paul Bertoncini, a baking instructor at Diman, said that, prior to enlisting, Mr. Bouthot had been working as a short-order cook at different restaurants in Fall River.

During a post-graduation visit to Diman, "I remember he shook my hand and said he was going into the military," said Edward A. Kerr, a teacher and the department chairman of the culinary arts program. "Little did we know then."

In an e-mail, a friend, Kyle Stankiewicz, told The Standard-Times that Mr. Bouthot joined the Army right after he joined the Navy.

"I'm not sure what else to say right now, except that Mike was proud to serve. I'm proud to say that he's my friend," said Mr. Stankiewicz. "He died like a soldier ... with his boots on.

"And in the end, it wasn't the Army, or oil, or the president he died for ... when ya break it down to the nitty gritty ... he died for us ... and for the future of both our country and Iraq," Mr. Stankiewicz said.

Diman officials notified staff about Mr. Bouthot's death and lowered flags at the school to half-staff yesterday morning.

School officials and friends described the young soldier as a likeable, easy-going person, prone to typical teenage excesses.

"He was always laughing and making us laugh," said Nathan Champigny of Fall River, a 17-year-old Diman student.

"There was never a dull moment with Michael," said Ashley Page of Fall River, also a 17-year-old student at Diman.

"You could depend on him to make you laugh. He was a goofball and a damn good one," Jon Durette said in an e-mail to The Standard-Times.

The students interviewed yesterday, who are younger than Pvt. Bouthot, didn't know he had joined the Army and were shocked to learn of his death.

"I still can't believe it," said Emmanuel DelValle, an 18-year-old Diman student from Fall River.

Pvt. Bouthot, the son of Larry and Susan Bouthot, graduated one year after his sister, Amy, who was in the painting and decorating program at Diman, school officials said.

He struggled with his studies but was never troublesome with his teachers, they said.

"That diploma didn't come easily," said Rogerio Ramos, superintendent-director. "It was well-earned."

Pvt. Bouthot was dedicated to the culinary program at Diman, loved hard rock or what his friends called "head-banging music," and also sang and played the drums in local bands.

His teachers said his outgoing personality made him "a born leader" with his peers.

Mr. Bertoncini and Mr. Kerr described him as "free spirit and a character.

"He was well-liked. Even if he screwed up, you couldn't stay mad at him," Mr. Bertoncini said, a sad smile coming to his face as he recalled his former student.

"He had his ways. He had his opinions and he wasn't afraid to express them," Mr. Bentley said. "But he was just a good kid. I can't express it enough. He was just a good kid. "It's very tragic," he said.

Mr. Kerr said Pvt. Bouthot, who was two months shy of his 20th birthday, is the third student of his to die before they got out of their teens; the other two died of natural causes.

"Now Michael," he said. "It's been very difficult. How many teachers have (lost) three students in this program?"

Mr. Ramos said school officials expect more students to speak with guidance counselors as they learn the news.

"We send our condolences to his family and friends," Mr. Ramos said. "We're saddened at the news of his death.

"We're also proud to say he graduated from Diman and served his country well."

Pvt. Bouthot's family has asked for privacy and declined a request for an interview.

Major Winfield S. Danielson III, public affairs officer for the Massachusetts National Guard, said Pvt. Bouthot's wake and funeral will be closed to all but family and friends.

Army Pvt. Michael E. Bouthot was killed in action on 04/22/06.


Anonymous said...

I love and miss my lil' brother mike so much......Joe :(

Anonymous said...

rock on mikey b.