Cpl. Keaton G. Coffey, 22, was killed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan
by: Contributed photo, Cpl. Keaton G. Coffey

Marine Corps Cpl. Keaton G. Coffey, a 22-year-old from Boring, was nearing the end of his second deployment to Afghanistan as a military working dog handler when he was killed in action May 24, in Helmand Province.

'Marines have an inherently dangerous job, and everybody realizes that,' said Lt. Garth Langley, second lieutenant with the U.S. Marine Corps 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. 'When a Marine makes the ultimate sacrifice, that shows the caliber of his person.

'Our hearts and condolences go out to his family. He has a lot of people out at Camp Pendleton with a heavy heart. ... It's never easy when you lose one of your own.'

The Department of Defense reported Coffey was killed while conducting combat operations.

His dog, Denny, a Belgian-Malinois shepherd dog, survived the incident and remains in Afghanistan.

Coffey enlisted in the Marine Corps on Aug. 18, 2008, just days before his 19th birthday on Aug. 21.

During his first deployment to Afghanistan in 2010, he was a military policeman with the 1st Law Enforcement Battalion, 1st Marine Headquarters Group, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif., Langley said.

When Coffey returned to the United States, he trained to be a dog handler with military police. He re-deployed at the beginning of this year with Denny.

In his time with the Marines, Coffey received multiple awards: Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal; Sea Service Deployment Ribbon; Afghanistan Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal; and NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan.

Flags at public institutions throughout Oregon will be at half-staff Monday, June 4, to honor Coffey, as ordered by Gov. John Kitzhaber.

'Cpl. Coffey was a dedicated young leader serving his second tour abroad,' Kitzhaber said in a press release. 'His commitment to his family and this country is inspiring, yet his death is a tragic loss and a reminder of the burden our military and their families continue to bear overseas. He will be missed, and I ask that all Oregonians pause this Monday to honor his sacrifice.'

Coffey, a Damascus Christian School graduate, planned to marry Brittany Dygert this summer. His family says he wanted to become a firefighter, just like his father.

Coffey is survived by his parents, Grant and Inger Coffey, and his fiancee.

A celebration of life service will be 11 a.m. Monday, June 4, at Good Shepherd Community Church, 28986 S.E. Haley Road in Boring. A committal service with full military honors will follow at the Willamette National Cemetery in Portland.

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