LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (6/13/2012) — Service members
gathered here June 11, to remember and honor fallen Marine,
Cpl. Keaton G. Coffey, with 1st Law Enforcement Battalion, I
Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group (Forward). He
was killed during combat operations in Helmand province,
Afghanistan, May 24.
Denny, Coffey's military working
dog, sat quietly with Staff Sgt. Aaron Nuckles in the
absence of his owner. Passersby occasionally gave him a
scratch on the head or behind the ear to feel his fur and
possibly feel a little closer to his fallen partner.
The chapel quickly filled with approximately 100 people.
Some had served closely with Coffey while others came to pay
their respects to the dedicated Marine.
Sheppard, Sgt. Alfred Nieto and Cpl. Nathaniel Hoy gave
personal reflections on their experiences with Coffey and
just how much he affected their lives for the better.
“Only once, only once in a very long while does that
Marine come around,” said Nieto. “That Marine has everything
to be great; eagerness to learn, passion to be the very best
at everything he is taught and extremely humble. When people
talk about having the mythical ‘it,' Cpl. Coffey could very
well have been the definition.”
A soldiers Battle Cross shown represents the loss of Cpl. Keaton
G. Coffey, who was killed during combat operations in Helmand
province, Afghanistan, May 24. A memorial service was held for
Coffey, a military working dog handler with 1st Law Enforcement
Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group (Forward)
at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, June 11, 2012. Photo by USMC Sgt.
The sense of loss seemed to weigh down the room even more as those
who may not have known Coffey during his lifetime heard about his
character and sense of duty from those who knew him best.
Heads hung low during the ceremony, eyes red and jaws clenched to
keep back the tears as memories were brought to light. Other times,
smiles and laughs echoed out as funny stories were told of Coffey.
Coffey hungered to learn things every day, asking senior NCO's
question after question just for his own knowledge, so he could
train better and become a stronger Marine.
McTeague, the Provost Marshal, said the loss of Coffey should remind
everyone to not only celebrate those who have fallen, but also
remember to value and praise the lives of those still with us.
“Corporal Keaton Coffey,” called out Gunnery Sgt. Allan
Anderson, a PMO provost sergeant with I MHG. The silence held heavy
as no answer came during the roll call.
When no answer came
yet again, the ranks closed, signifying Coffey would not be
reporting for duty.
Coffey, an only child, is survived by
his parents, Grant and Inger Coffey, and fianc�, Brittany Dygert. He
also will be leaving behind his brothers and sisters in arms.
“They say like with kids, you're not supposed to have a
favorite, you're supposed to keep everyone on an equal playing
field,” said Nieto. “I didn't listen, Cpl. Coffey, from the first
day I met him was that Marine for me. He made me a better Marine, a
better sergeant and a better person. He made a lasting impression on
me that will be felt throughout the remainder of my time.”
More photos available in frame below
By USMC Sgt. Laura Bonano
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