BALTIMORE, MD, US
U. S. Army
SPC, CO C, 321ST MI BN, ROUND ROCK, TX
Army Corporal Christopher J. Coffland died November 13, 2009 in Sayed Abad district, Wardak province, Afghanistan while serving during Operation Enduring Freedom. He succumbed to wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with improvised explosives. Two other service members were also killed. Chris was a forty-three year old Army Reservist assigned to the 323d Military Intelligence Battalion at Fort Meade, Maryland. Corporal Coffland was scheduled to return just before his forty-second birthday. He was killed two and a half weeks after arriving in Afghanistan.
Chris Coffland had amassed an impressive collection of art and owned a restored 1968 Chevy Camaro. He grew up in a blue-collar home but later rubbed elbows with debutantes at parties. But he was called to even more challenges which lead to his joining the Army, and embracing his task of gathering intelligence from the locals in Afghanistan.
“I feel as comfortable talking to a head of state as I do a second-shift factory worker, and since I know both worlds, I am able to integrate into either without a trace of unfamiliarity,” he wrote in a letter to the Army, explaining why he was qualified for intelligence work.
Christopher was closer to his sister Lynn than anyone else, often staying with her in between adventures. Friends and family often hoped he would settle down, but his constant desire to do something fulfilling is what kept him changing jobs — and what brought him to the Army.
“He respected his friends, adored them,” Lynn Coffland said. “But he could not settle for what was not in his heart.”
He was a 1984 Gilman School graduate and had earned an undergraduate degree from Washington and Lee University in 1988. He spent his life counseling, coaching, traveling, and studying people and cultures. A month before he turned 42, the enlistment age limit, he signed up to become an Army intelligence specialist. He had considered military serves various times and had won an appointment to West Point, but declined because of the six-year commitment.
Chris played professional football in Finland, coached football in Australia and Lacrosse at Boys’ Latin School of Maryland, worked as a university counselor at Loyola Marymount, Los Angeles, tended bar in Baltimore, studied anthropology at Washington State university living with pygmies in Gabon, Africa. He trained for more than a year for his mission in Afghanistan.
Chris Coffland is survived by his parents; a brother; and two other sisters. Chris was an intelligent, thoughtful adventurer who spent most of his life helping and coaching others. He was a strong and talented athlete and Lacrosse player and when asked why he didn’t shoot more, Chris answered: “Dude. You know that’s not what I’m about.”