Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Chris Coffin

Christopher D Coffin

Kennebunk, Maine

July 1, 2003

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
51 Army 1stSgt

352nd Civil Affairs Battalion

Riverdale, Maryland

Highway 8 in Iraq.  Coffin's vehicle ran into a ditch while trying to avoid a civilian vehicle.

Chris Coffin Christopher Coffin

AP News

Christopher D. Coffin had planned to retire from the Army Reserves, wanting to spend more time with his wife, Betsy, in Kennebunk, Maine. But that plan was put on hold because of the war. Coffin died July 1 in Iraq in a vehicle accident.

Poems by Jon Heimbach, a tribute to his uncle Chris


The Price Of Freedom

The price of freedom is already paid

By all of the men who lie in their graves,

They died for their country,

They died for you and me'

They died so this nation will always be free.



This country is free

For you and me,

Thanks to the soldier who lies in his grave,

The flag of this nation continues to wave.



The sacrifices made by soldiers each day

Far exceed those for which they get pay,

These soldiers die for people unknown,

Praying that some how they will get home,

These men die as heroes and examples to all,

Dying so that the nation never will fall.


Death Of A Soldier

When an American soldier falls to the ground

The death of a hero is mourned all around,

He fought for his country

And died for the free,

Losing his life to protect you and me.



The families with soldiers serving overseas

Know what it really means to grieve,

They  loose their loved ones to a faraway war

Knowing they'll never again walk through the door,

Husbands, Fathers, Uncles all fall

Knowing they gave their country their all,

Never again will they get to see

The home of the Brave and the Land of the Free

Civil Affairs Unit Honors Fallen First Sergeant

By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Conrad College / 372nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 8, 2003 — A memorial service for 1st Sgt. Christopher D. Coffin, first sergeant of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 352nd Civil Affairs Command, was held in Baghdad, Iraq, on July 3.

Coffin was killed July 1 in Iraq when the convoy in which he was riding was attacked on a main supply route south of Baghdad.

Over a hundred soldiers and officers, including two generals, crowded into a room to attend the memorial service, which was held in the 352nd headquarters building, where Coffin had worked as a leader of his company. Many other soldiers stood in the hallways outside of the room, unable to get into the crowed room.

The soldiers were carrying their weapons and ammunition, as always in Iraq.

Two Army chaplains led the traditional, military memorial service, which included special music and testimonials by soldiers and officers who had worked with Coffin. The company of soldiers sang, “Amazing Grace,” while a chaplain played the music on an electronic keyboard. There was not one dry eye in the room.

One sergeant told how, some years ago, he had been hurt in an accident and was taken to the hospital. Speaking with a breaking voice, the sergeant said he would never forget that 1st Sgt. Coffin came and sat by him all night, ensuring that everything would be all right.

An officer testified, in a trembling voice, how Coffin had always been concerned for the welfare of his soldiers. He said Coffin taught every soldier and officer that he worked with his first rule of the Army: “Mission first, but take care of your soldiers -- always.”

In the traditional military memorial service, Coffin’s combat boots, M-16 rifle and helmet were on display at the front of the room, along with two framed photographs of Coffin.

Suddenly, all those present were called to attention and ordered to “present arms” (salute) by the officer in charge. Then 1st Sgt. Christopher D. Coffin’s name was called out loud and clear, three times, as if he were being summoned to the front of the formation. Then the officer in charge said, “1st Sgt. Coffin has met his last formation.”

The 352nd Civil Affairs Command, an Army Reserve unit, is based in Riverdale, Md., in the Washington, D.C. area, but Coffin lived in Kennebunk, Maine.

Coffin was born July 8, 1951, and spent most of his childhood in New Jersey. He graduated from Somerville High School in New Jersey in 1969. He graduated from Ryder College in 1981 with a degree in history.

Coffin joined the Army on June 29, 1971, and was first trained as a tank crew member. He was then assigned to HHC, 2nd Battalion, 33rd Armored Regiment in Europe, and served on active duty for three years before joining the Army Reserve on August 21, 1974. Many years, and many promotions later, he joined the 352nd Civil Affairs Command on Aug. 1, 2002.

He was an avid skier ands spent much of his vacation time with his wife Betsy skiing in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

In his civilian work, Coffin had been a police officer for many years. In 1998, he transferred to the Department of Defense as a federal police officer, and had worked at several U.S. military installations, including the Pentagon and Fort Detrick, Md. He was currently assigned to the U.S. Park Police in Maine, where he and his wife resided.

In his Army work, Coffin is best remembered for his stern, but fair, attitude and his constant concern for the well-being of his company of soldiers and officers

Portsmouth Harold  Sunday March 21, 2004

Grieving widow asks that we remember fallen heroes

By Susan Nolan

As families rejoice in the homecoming of their loved ones this month, we can’t forget those families whose loved ones will never come home again.

My brother, CW2 Tom Driscoll, a Black Hawk Medevac pilot, was called to duty from his civilian job to serve with the Maine Army National Guard in January 2003.

First Sgt. Chris Coffin of Kennebunk, who served with the 352 Civil Affairs Command, was called to duty the same month.

Both men were sent to Iraq, but only Tommy will be coming home this month.

Chris Coffin came home earlier than Tom. He returned in a flag-draped coffin last summer.

He was killed outside of Baghdad on July 1 in hostile fire.

His wife Betsy is grieving each day for the loss of the love of her life.

I am thankful my sister-in-law Kathy was spared the same grief and thankful it appears Tommy will come home safely to us. But I cannot rejoice.

I cannot rejoice because Chris Coffin won’t be coming home to Maine with Tommy and the others.

It could have been our family, and not the Coffins, who were met by that unmarked military vehicle that always delivers the message of death to the family of the fallen soldier. And I never forget. I am thankful we have been spared. I am sorrowful that Betsy Coffin was not.

I had lunch with Betsy Coffin a couple of weeks ago and it was one of the most memorable moments of this heartbreaking year.

She is a credit to her husband and to every military family. She is kind and gracious and not bitter in the least. She speaks of her husband’s memory with the greatest tenderness, and with pride in his accomplishments and love for the uniform he wore. She is young, in her early 40s, and seems so very fragile in some ways - the tears brimming in her eyes as she speaks softly of the husband whom she so loved for nearly a quarter century. Still, she clearly has an inner strength and determination to keep his memory alive, and to honor the men and women who tried to save his life that July day.

Despite her own pain, Betsy Coffin is genuinely concerned for my brother. She hopes, she said softly, that he would come home safely. She did not, she said, wish the same tragic heartbreak she had suffered to happen to anyone else. She hopes she can in some way honor those who tried to save Chris’ life. And she hopes people will not forget the sacrifice of Chris and the nearly 600 others who have died in the Iraqi war.

"I worry so that people will forget and that would be yet another tragedy," she wrote in a note. "If I can prevent this, then I feel I have an obligation to do so for Chris, but also for all our fallen heroes."

My brother Tommy and the 112th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) will return to the United States this month. They will come home to Maine in April. I know I will cry when at last I see Tommy, but my tears will not be for him alone.

I will be crying because Chris Coffin and others will not come marching home again.

It’s been a sad year.

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