Cpl. Erik Garoutte
(reprinted from SignOnSanDiego.com, October 23, 2007)
Santee man recalled as selfless, successful
By Rick Rogers
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
October 23, 2007
Friends and family members remembered Cpl. Erik T. Garoutte of Santee as a Marine who served selflessly until he died Friday at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.
Garoutte, 22, was exercising when he collapsed. He never regained consciousness.
His mother, Donna Stone of Santee, had a heart attack after hearing about his death.
“The doctor said that literally a piece of her heart died with him,” said Jeff Stine, a family friend and associate pastor at Zion Christian Fellowship in Spring Valley.
Garoutte was assigned to the 1st Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Company, Marine Corps Security Force Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force in Norfolk, Va.
“He was an awesome person,” said Judith Garoutte of El Cajon, his stepmother. “Anything he put his mind to, he succeeded in, whether it was playing guitar or being a Marine.”
Erik Garoutte attended Santana High School. His stepmother said he “narrowly escaped the shootings” on March 5, 2001, that killed two students and wounded 13 others.
Garoutte enlisted with the Marines in 2005 and completed boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. He then trained at Camp Pendleton’s School of Infantry and joined the elite anti-terrorism unit in July 2006.
He was quickly promoted, gaining the rank of corporal in June, and was expected to make sergeant in the near future.
Garoutte’s decorations include the Global War on Terrorism Expedition Stine, who first met Garoutte when the boy was in junior high school, praised his dedication to the Corps.
“After he graduated from boot camp, I took him to Ruth’s Chris Steak House,” Stine said. “I asked him if he wanted to change clothes before we went out. He said he worked too hard earning the uniform to take it off.”
He described Garoutte as a religious man with a caustic wit.
“The one thing that people will say is how funny he was. He had a sarcastic sense of humor, but he wasn’t mean-spirited,” Stine said. “No matter the mood you were in, he could make you smile.”
Judith Garoutte offered a similar assessment, portraying her stepson as “the life of the party.”
“He was so full of life and always had a smile on his face,” she said. “He had such aspirations. … I regret that he will never have children because he would’ve been such a great father.”
Garoutte also is survived by his father, Robert Garoutte of El Cajon, and four siblings.
The family hopes an autopsy will explain what caused Garoutte to die. The Department of Defense said it has launched an investigation.
Once Garoutte’s funeral arrangements are finalized, they will be posted on zionsandiego.com.