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This Memorial Day 2012 edition honors our veterans; the family, friends, and fellow Americans who have served and whom we will always hold dear in our hearts. Please feel free to add your Memorial Day tributes in the comments.

Since 2001, 1984 U.S. troops have died while serving in Afghanistan, and since 2003, 4486 U.S. troops have died while serving in Iraq.

The IGTNT (I Got The News Today) series is a reminder that nearly every day, somebody gets the heartbreaking news that a friend, former classmate, or beloved family member will not be coming home from war.

Tonight we remember a Marine and a Soldier
who died while serving in Afghanistan:

Cpl. Keaton G. Coffey, 22, of Boring, Oregon
Pfc. Cale C. Miller, 23, of Olathe, Kansas

Please take a moment below to remember them,
and all those who have lost their lives in these wars.

Memorial Day weekend in Questa, New Mexico, USA means the Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally from Red River to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Angel Fire, and the Healing Field of flags in Questa, small northern New Mexican villages found along the Enchanted Circle, near Taos.

Volunteers set up 1000 American flags in the field in Questa, dedicated to loved ones who have served; dedicated to all veterans who have served their country. The flags fly in the May wind, and a ceremony honors our local veterans, most of whom are Hispanic and Native American, as well as the Anglos and other Americans who have served.

I always fly a flag for my Dad who served in Vietnam, my grandfather in WW2, my brother in Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and my husband in Vietnam. We fly a flag for Uncle Otto, killed in action in WWI in France, and honored in this biography at the Library of Congress website:

Sgt. Otto F. Leven, KIA WWI, Veterans History Project

I always stand at the flag for my friend Joey Gallegos, who died while serving in Iraq with the NM National Guard. His sister Louise Padilla leads the volunteer effort to display the flags. Last year they dedicated a fallen soldier statue in honor of Joey's service and sacrifice. I wrote about Joey in my first IGTNT diary.

RIP Sgt. Joey Gallegos, of Questa, NM

Last year we dedicated a flag to Chief David Segars, US Navy veteran, and beloved husband of our dear JaxDem. I visited David's flag in the Vietnam section, and took a short video of his flag flying in the wind.

Rest in Peace, Chief David Segars. Much Love to JaxDem.

Meanwhile, the war goes on and on in Afghanistan.
This memorial is also dedicated to all of the sad losses of
precious lives that have occurred since the war began in 2001.

Tonight we remember two more lost in the war in Afghanistan,
and dedicate two more flags to the Healing Field of Honor:

The Department of Defense announced the death of a Marine.

Cpl. Keaton G. Coffey, 22, of Boring, Oregon

Cpl. Coffey died May 24 during combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to 1st Law Enforcement Battalion, 1st Marine Headquarters Group, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Camp Pendleton, California.

Keaton Coffey was the only child of Grant and Inger Coffey, of Boring. He attended the nearby Damascus Christian School from kindergarten to his senior year. He graduated in 2007 and briefly attended George Fox University shortly before joining the Marines.
Former teachers describe Keaton as "one of the good ones" and "every parent's dream." He is recalled as polite, respectful, kind and considerate, and was liked well enough to become student body president during his senior year.

"He had an attitude and a heart of service," said Bob Dennis, a family friend. "He put himself out for other people."

Oregon Live

His family and friends were not surprised when he joined the Marines. He learned about service from his father, who has spent more than 35 years at Portland Fire & Rescue. His family said his father taught Keaton the importance of public service.

Cpl. Coffey grieved deeply over one of his best friends from training camp, who had died during his first tour, and got a tattoo in his honor.

Throughout his deployment, his family and friends often worried about his fate, and tried to keep in daily contact.

"We knew he was in a dangerous place and he had taken on a dangerous mission," said Urbanowski, his teacher. "We were just hoping that he'd be OK."

Oregon Live

In recent months, Keaton began talking about his upcoming wedding in July, when he returned from war. His mother really liked his future bride, and said the couple planned to live near Camp Pendleton.

After the Marines, Keaton wanted to follow in his father's footsteps. He wanted to become a firefighter himself, and continue to serve his community.

Among those Cpl. Coffey leaves behind are his fiance, mother and father, and his family and friends in Boring.
Cpl. Keaton G. Coffey is missed. May he rest in peace.

The Department of Defense announced the death of a soldier.

Pfc. Cale C. Miller, 23, of Olathe, Kansas

Pfc. Miller died May 24, in Maiwand, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device detonation. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, stationed in Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

Cale Miller spent his whole life in Olathe, Kansas, in Johnson County. He graduated in 2007 from Olathe Northwest High School and then attended classes at the University of Kansas and Baker University. His parents recently moved to Overland Park.

His brother-in-law Frank Barden said that Cale "loved music, Ford Mustangs and pug dogs, and excelled at everything he did." He played football and played trumpet in the band in high school, according to a story in joco913.

Cale explored various passions after high school, like auto mechanics and sound mixing. His family was surprised when he said he planned to join the Army, but said he really loved it when he joined a year and a half ago. He especially loved the camaraderie with his squadmates.

He deployed to Afghanistan about six weeks ago and was a driver of a Stryker armored combat vehicle. On May 24, the vehicle Pvt. Miller was driving hit an IED, leaving Miller trapped under the burning vehicle. Reportedly, he told his squadmates to save themselves rather than worry about rescuing him.

His mother, Deborah Collins, said: “Although we are devastated by our loss, we find comfort knowing that Cale died doing exactly what he wanted to do. His sacrifice shall not be in vain, and we rest assured knowing that some good will come from his untimely death. We love him to the moon and back.”

Miller's family issued the following statement regarding his death:

"As he did throughout his life, his final act on this earth was selfless, and his sacrifice prevented the deaths of several of his battle buddies. Cale was a hero in everyday life, always putting others before himself, including giving his life so that others may live. He was also a warrior on the battlefield, and his loss is felt sharply by his fellow soldiers."


The Governor ordered flags to be flown at half staff the day of his funeral, and issued this statement:

“Lt. Gov. Colyer and I are profoundly saddened to hear of the loss of Private Miller,” said Gov. Sam Brownback in a statement. “He is a hero and will forever remain in the hearts of the Kansans and the Americans for whom he gave his life serving.”


Among those Pfc. Miller leaves behind are his family and friends in Olathe, Kansas, and his squadmates who are still serving.
Pfc. Cale C. Miller is missed. May he rest in peace.

* * *
Thanks to Timroff for our faithfully lighted candle IGTNT logo;
Other Photos by CalNM and linked Sources

Helping our troops: If you wish to assist our military and their families, consider Operation Helmet, or sponsoring a deployed service member at Fisher House provides housing for families of injured troops and veterans who are recovering in hospitals, and Guardian angels for soldierspet assists the animal companions of our deployed military.

When our veterans come back home, they can find support at Welcome Back Veterans. Our recently returned veterans need jobs, and Veterans Green Jobs is now hiring for positions and filling training sessions. VGJ corps retrains veterans as leaders in forest and resource conservation, green construction, and energy efficient upgrades of homes in rural areas. Encourage a Veteran, and see if you can help out.

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About the IGTNT series: I Got the News Today is intended to honor, respect, and remember the fallen, and to remind us that each casualty has family and friends who received the terrible news that their loved one has died at war. Diaries about the fallen usually appear two days after their names are officially released, which allows time for the IGTNT team to find and tell their stories. The US Department of Defense news releases are found at defense gov/releases. Icasualties lists the names of those killed, and shows the number of wounded. Published AP photos of the returning war fatalities are found on the Dover AFB page. Click the IGTNT tags below for previous diaries in the series which was begun by i dunno, and which is maintained by monkeybiz, noweasels, blue jersey mom, Chacounne, twilight falling, joyful, roses, SisTwo, a girl in MI, Spam Nunn, JeNoCo, Janos Nation, True Blue Majority, Proud Mom and Grandma, Sandy on Signal, Wide Awake in Kentucky, Ms Wings, maggiejean, JaxDem, theFatLadySings, Ekaterin, and me, CalNM. These diaries are heartbreaking to write, but are an important service to those who have died, and show our community’s respect for our fallen brothers and sisters.
Please bear in mind that these diaries are read by friends and family of the service members chronicled here. May all of our remembrances be full of compassion rather than politics.
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