LCpl. Budd Cote
(reprinted from AZStarNet.com December 14, 2006)
Marana Marine killed in Iraq felt ‘proudest’ he’d ever been
By Carla McClain
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Just days before he was to celebrate his first wedding anniversary, Lance Cpl. Budd Michael Cote of Marana was killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb.
The 21-year old Marine is the 21st service member from Southern Arizona and the fourth student from Mountain View High School to die in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
Cote was fatally injured on Monday, along with two other Marines, while they were on a mission in Anbar province to locate and disarm improvised explosive devices — the makeshift bombs that are now the top killer in Iraq.
“I’m devastated. I just don’t believe it,” said his wife, Zoraida Cote, 19.
“Budd was a wonderful person — the most amazing person I ever met in my life. Everybody liked him. He could always make you laugh, no matter what, no matter how bad the situation.
“And he was very honored by what he was doing. One of the last conversations we had, he told me this is the proudest he has ever been, and that he knew of good things they were doing over there.”
She met her future husband in 2001 when the two attended summer school at Mountain View, in the Marana Unified School District. Budd Cote also attended Canyon del Oro High School in Oro Valley, then earned a high school equivalency diploma before joining the Marines in 2005.
Deployed to Iraq in September, he served with the field military police and was assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron 373, Marine Wing Support Group 37, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.
The other men killed in the incident were identified as Cpl. Matthew V. Dillon, 25, of Aiken, S.C., and Lance Cpl. Clinton J. Miller, 23, of Greenfield, Iowa.
“He had great friends with him in Iraq,” his wife said. “But he wouldn’t talk to me very much about the environment he was in — he didn’t ever want to worry me. I do know he never shut off his weapon. That’s all he would really say.”
Cote was born in Corona, Calif., and lived in the Tucson area and in Las Vegas while he grew up. In Tucson, he played roller hockey but enjoying music “was his life,” his wife said.
It was not quite love at first sight when they met during summer school, she admitted. He was passing notes during class, and the teacher caught him and read his note.
“It said, ‘I think this girl is really cute,’ and he meant me. I was really embarrassed — I didn’t like that,” she said.
“It took a little while before I knew he was wonderful. But he really was.”
She described her husband as a very optimistic person.
“He always had a solution, no matter what was happening,” she said. “He made the best of everything.”
The couple had planned to move to San Diego after Cote’s scheduled return from Iraq in March. He was planning a career as a police officer, his wife said.
Officials at Mountain View declined to comment on the loss of yet another service member who attended the high school, but said counselors are available to students upset by this kind of news.
“We usually remain quiet out of respect for the privacy of the families affected by these losses,” said Tamara Crawley, spokeswoman for the Marana Unified School District.
“But we continue to monitor our students when something like this happens, and if any are having difficulty, we make sure they have access to all our resources — our counselors and our crisis team, if needed.”
In addition to his wife, Cote is survived by his parents, Marcy and Roland, of Las Vegas; his sister, Tiffiany Cox, and niece Kennedy Marie Cox, also of Las Vegas; and his brothers Christopher of Indiana and Alexander of California.
Services are tentatively planned for Sunday and will be in Las Vegas.
Find a searchable database of war casualties at go.azstarnet.com/casualties
“Budd was a wonderful person — the most amazing person I ever met in my life. Everybody liked him. He could always make you laugh, no matter what, no matter how bad the situation.”
Marine Lance Cpl. Budd Michael Cote’s widow