News: Memorial held for fallen Marine at Camp Leatherneck
Story by Sgt. Laura Bonano
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan—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.
Corporal Seth 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.”
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.
Captain Michael 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 fiancé, 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.”