Master Sgt. Peter A. McKenna Jr., 35, of Bristol, Rhode Island, died Aug. 8, in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds when he was attacked by enemy small arms fire. McKenna was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. His loss comes just a month after he was honored at the historic Fourth of July parade in his hometown of Bristol. McKenna was a 17 year Army veteran who had also served in Iraq. Among his awards are the Bronze Star with V device for heroism in combat operations and the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal. McKenna began his service in 1998 as an infantryman and qualified for Special Forces in 2002. He was assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group, now based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, as communications sergeant in 2003. He earned a bachelor's degree in strategic studies from Norwich University in 2014.
Master Sgt. David L. Poirier, 52, of North Smithfield, R.I., died Feb. 28, from a non-combat related incident currently under investigation. He was assigned to the 157th Operations Support Squadron, Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H. New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen – Sec 5 Row E Site 65
To Be updated…
Born: September 5, 1986 in Liberia
Died: April 12, 2012 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan
Lance Cpl. Abraham Tarwoe, 25, Providence, R.I., died April 12 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C. Tarwoe joined the Marine Corps in June 2009 and was promoted to the rank of lance corporal in August 2010. He recently deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His military awards include the Combat Action Ribbon, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan. Buried in his native Liberia at the estate of John G. Kar.
To be updated…
Born: September 1, 1982
Died: March 22, 2012 in Laghman, Afghanistan
Sgt. Dennis P. Weichel Jr., 29, of Providence, R.I., died March 22 in Laghman province, Afghanistan, from injuries suffered in a noncombat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment, 56th Troop Command, Rhode Island National Guard, East Greenwich, R.I. He was a member of the National Guard since 2001 and was deployed to Iraq in 2005. Dennis died saving the life of a little boy.
According to the U.S. Army, Weichel was in a convoy with his unit in Laghman Province, in northeast Afghanistan. Some children were in the road in front of the convoy, and Weichel and other troops got out to move them out of the way.
Most of the children moved, but one little boy went back to pick up some brass shell casings in the road. Afghan civilians often recycle the casings, and the boy appeared to aim to do that. But a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle was moving toward him.
MRAPs, as they are known, usually weigh more than 16 tons.
Weichel saw the massive truck bearing down on the child and grabbed him out of the way. But in the process, the armored truck ran him over, Riel said.
The child is fine. Weichel died a short time later of his injuries. Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery in Exeter, Rhode Island – Sec H-3 Row 31 Site 1017
143rd Infantry Regiment
56th Troop Command
East Greenwich, R.I.
To be updated…
Born:January 24, 1985
Died: March 31, 2011 in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany
Spc. Dennis C. Poulin of Cumberland, Rhode Island died at age 26 in the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries sustained on March 28 in Konar province, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, Massachusetts National Guard, Milford, Mass. He was a gunner in a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicle when it rolled over. Dennis joined the National Guard in 2008 and deployed to Afghanistan in July of 2010. His awards include, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Army Service Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Overseas Ribbon, the Global War on Terror Service Medal, the Afghan Campaign Medal with Bronze Star, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” device, the Massachusetts Defense Service Ribbon, the Massachusetts Defense Expeditionary Ribbon, the Army Commendation Medal, the NATO Medal with International Security Assistance Force Clasp.
Burial is at St Ann Cemetery in Cranston, Rhode Island
To be updated…
Born: December 4, 1987 in Newport, Rhode Island
Died: November 5, 2010 in Kandahar, Afghanistan
Sgt. Michael F. Paranzino, 22, of Middletown, Rhode Island graduated from Middletown High School in 2006. While he was a student at Middletown High School, Michael made trips to Nicaragua in January of 2005 and 2006 with the Northeast Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (NEVOSH) to provide humanitarian support to the disadvantaged and poor in Catarina and Nandasmo, Nicaragua. These trips provided life-expanding experiences for Michael and were the precursor to many of the values he believed in along with the leadership skills that he displayed as an Army Sergeant. In 2007 he enlisted in the United States Army and was currently serving in Afghanistan after having been previously deployed to Iraq. His Awards and Decorations include, the Army Achievement Medal, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Ribbon, the NATO Medal and the Combat Action Badge. He leaves his wife Lindsey, two sons, Logan and Maxton, his parents Francis and Melane Paranzino, and his brother Daniel. He died at age 22 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
71st Cavalry Regiment
1st Brigade Combat Team
10th Mountain Division
Fort Drum, New York
St. Columba Cemetery in Middletown, Rhode Island
To be updated…
Sgt. Michael R. Weidemann of Newport, Rhode Island graduated from Rogers High School in 2001 where he was an honors student. He attended the Newport Area Career and Technical Center where he specialized in automotive technology. But it was the JROTC program that had the biggest impact on him. The program completely turned his life around, giving him some direction. He loved the Army and wanted to make a career of it. Mike could hardly contain his excitement about joining the Army, seeing it as a good opportunity. His mother, Susanna Weidemann, died in 1999 at the age of 39. She was a Navy veteran, but her experience had little influence on her son’s military decision. She died in 1999 at age 39. His father lived out of state. He leaves his maternal grandmother Gertrude K.C. Miller, his sister Catharine, his brothers Edward R. and Benjamin J. Berriault, and Richard L. Weidemann, Jr. He was preceded in death by his mother, Susanna Miller Weidemann. He died at age 23 in Asad, Iraq, from injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Light Medium Tactical Vehicle in Hit, Iraq.
36th Infantry Regiment
1st Armored Division
Burial is at Saint Marys Episcopal Churchyard in Portsmouth, Rhode Island
2d Lt. Matthew S. Coutu, 23, of North Kingstown, Rhode Island moved to Lake Forest, Illinois in 1994 where he graduated from Lake Forest High School in 2000. While there he was the Captain of his football team, competed in track, wrestling and shot put. He also earned a black belt in Karate. He stood an impressive 6′ 1” and a held a quiet confidence in his 210 lb frame. In 2002 he moved to North Kingstown. Matthew graduated from University of Maine in 2004 majoring in History with a 3.4 GPA where he made the dean’s list. As a senior in the Reserve Office Training Corps, he received that organizations highest honor, the George C. Mitchell Award. Matthew was fascinated with the armed forces early on in life. First by playing with G.I. Joe and later evolving to anything to do with Navy SEALS. He is the son of Donna M. Matarazzo Coutu-Freeland and Michael A. Coutu. Matt was killed at age 23 by small-arms fire when his convoy was attacked in Baghdad.
64th Military Police Company
720th Military Police Battalion
89th Military Police Brigade
Fort Hood, Texas
Burial is at Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Exeter, Rhode Island – Sec H-3 Row 31 Site 1007
Pfc. Kyle J. Coutu of Providence, Rhode Island attended William E. Tolman High School, where he was captain of the football and wrestling teams. Kyle knew by freshman year that he wanted to join the Marines and so he enlisted in the Marine Corps one week after he graduated. During his junior year, he suffered a shoulder injury while wrestling. His big concern was that it might disqualify him from serving in the military, but the rehabilitation was successful. In the fall of 2009, Kyle asked his girlfriend, Jacqueline to marry him. The couple were planning a wedding for October 2, 2010. Kyle died at age 20 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He leaves behind his mother, Melissa Coutu, and his fiancée, Jacqueline, and his grandparents, Ronald and Janice Driscoll Coutu. In May of 2010, the Tolman High School field where Kyle wore jersey # 77 was dedicated, the, ‘PFC Kyle Joseph Coutu, U.S.M.C. Memorial Field.’
6th Marine Regiment
2nd Marine Division
II Marine Expeditionary Force
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
Burial will be at Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Exeter, Rhode Island – Sec H-3 Row 31 Site 1015
Died July 5, 2004 in Al Anbar, Iraq
Lance Cpl. John J. Van Gyzen of Bristol, Massachusetts, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on October 9, 2001, while still a student at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School. His goal was to obtain training and experience so he could fulfill his dream of becoming a member of the Massachusetts State police Department SWAT Team. He took his initial training at Parris Island, South Carolina then was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment as a rifleman in March of 2002. He served his first tour of duty in Iraq from January to September 2003, and then returned to Twentynine Palms, California. During this time he married his wife, Amanda. He deployed again in February 2004, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, from Twentynine Palms. When he left, his parents hung a yellow ribbon on a tree on their property. John was to take it down when he returned home in October. He was planning on enlisting for another six years and working with the military police. Growing up John had been very active in the outdoors, from fishing to snowmobiling to dirt biking. He also cared deeply for his community, running a food drive for his church. John left for his deployment with some apprehension, while he felt it an important honor to be serving, he also felt a bit scared, going up against a fearless and skilled enemy. John’s duties included doing door-to-door searches. John never got to take that ribbon down, on July 5, John was killed as a result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province. He was buried in Rhode Island Veteran Memorial Cemetery in Exeter, Rhode Island. (Note that the Department of Defense spells John’s surname as Vangyzen.)