Chris Coffland ’88 Buried at Arlington

Chris Coffland '88

UPDATE (12/2): The Baltimore Sun carried the story of Washington and Lee alumnus Chris Coffland’s burial at Arlington National Cemetery this week. The ceremony was held on Dec. 1. Coffland was killed in Afghanistan on Nov. 13. Prior to being buried, Coffland was honored with seven medals, including two Bronze Stars for bravery and a Purple Heart. In addition, the Washington Post carried a feature story about Chris this week in which it report, among things, that his fellow soldiers at Fort Meade called him Pops because he was the same age as their fathers, “but he could outrun all of them and set the base record with 128 push-ups in two minutes.” To see that story, go to this link.

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Nov. 16, 2009

Chris Coffland, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1988 and a captain of the 1987 Generals’ football team, was killed Friday (Nov. 13) by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. He was 43. According to media reports out of Baltimore where Chris lived, he was killed when his vehicle was hit by an IED on his way to investigate another IED blast. Two other people in the vehicle also died. Chris came to W&L after graduating from Gilman School in Baltimore. He played both football and lacrosse and was a running back for late head coach Gary Fallon’s football Generals. After playing behind W&L star running back Kevin Weaver on the 1986 team, Chris was the starting tailback on the 1987 squad. Coach Fallon said this about Chris, who had been the third-leading rusher and top return man in 1986 in the media guide prior to the 1987 season: “[Last year] Chris did everything for us but clean the balls. He ran from three different positions each week and this year we want him to focus on one position. Chris is super tough, so I know he’ll give it his best shot.” Chris led W&L in rushing that fall and scored five touchdowns. A psychology major at W&L, Chris had played football in Finland and coached in Australia. He’d also studied anthropology in graduate school, according to comments from his family. The Baltimore Sun’s story reported that Chris has joined the Army Reserve a month before he turned 42, which was the enlistment cut-off date. He was an Army intelligence officer and had been deployed to Afghanistan just two weeks ago. Chris’s body arrived Saturday night at Dover Air Force Base. WBAL-TV in Baltimore reported that Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon has ordered city flags lowered in Chris’s honor. Here are links to some other tributes to Chris in Maryland media:

UPDATE (11/17): The funeral service for Chris will be held on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 11 a.m. in Baltimore’s Cathedral of Mary Our Queen (5200 N Charles Street) followed by a reception at Gilman School (5407 Roland Avenue). Visitation will be on Friday, Nov. 20, from 12 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Lemmon Funeral Home, 10 W Padonia Road in Timonium, MD. The family is establishing a memorial fund at Gilman School and has asked that donations be made there in lieu of flowers.

UPDATE (11/17): A Facebook fan page has been created for Chris. Go to Facebook and search “Chris Cofflland.”

UPDATE (11/19): Roanoke Times writer Doug Doughty has a piece about Chris in his notebook today. You can read it here. In addition the current “From the Sidelines” blog by W&L Sports Information Director Brian Laubscher has a posting about Chris.

UPDATE (11/20): Baltimore Sun has an extensive feature on Chris’s life. Read it here.

19 Responses to “Chris Coffland ’88 Buried at Arlington”


  1. 1 Kevin Hunt December 17, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    I was so saddened by this news. Coffy was a great guy at W&L, a friend to all. Besides football and lax, he was a superb stickball player in the Gilliam dormitory quad freshman year who would not let the innings run out until his team was ahead. He died a hero’s death. My deepest sympathies to the Coffland family.

  2. 2 McMORROW December 12, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Chris Coffland, W&L ’88, lies at Arlington Ntional Cemetery in
    a grave of freshly churned earth, for sod is not yet laid, and a gravestone in not yet in place. A friend, Mary Alice McMorrow,
    W&L ’90, wished to be sure that the period of not-forgetting was begun. On this day, December 12th, a wreath was placed on Chris
    Coffland’s grave. [See http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org]

  3. 3 Ray Coates Jr November 20, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    I did not know Chris but he is a person who will be remembered forever for being a great American. I will pray for his family.

  4. 4 Craig Keanna November 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    As a W&L classmate, I was profoundly saddened to hear of his death. He gave his life for our country and its freedom. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

  5. 5 Mathew Horridge November 18, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Condolences to Chris’s family and friends (Noz, Pack, et al) from another ’88/’89 classmate. Memory fades but I swear Chris was part of the D-Hall Family. Chris was a throw-back tough guy: He would come to work unfailingly on autumn Saturday nights and Sunday mornings despite swollen hands, bruised ribs and other assorted game-related injuries. He nevertheless retained a hearty laugh through those – and so many other – meals. Great guy; tremendous loss.

  6. 6 Brad Preston November 18, 2009 at 11:37 am

    As many of our classmates have mentioned, Chris was a one-of-a-kind guy and one of the toughest men I’ve ever known. It is with regret that I admit that I lost touch with Chris after our graduation in 1988. He will be missed by all those who had the privilege of knowing him. I will keep Chris and his family in my prayers.

  7. 7 Rob Jones November 17, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    I did not know Chris that well, but we always spoke to each other on campus. He made the ultimate sacrifice in service to his country. Condolences to his friends and family.

  8. 8 Tom O'Brien November 17, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Chris and I were classmates at W&L. We lost touch over the years but reading the rembrances of Chris’ life well-lived brings back fond memories. His decision to join the Army is not a shock.

    My deepest condolences to Chris’ family and friends. May God bless him, his family, his friends, and his comrades in arms.

  9. 9 Marcelo Fernandes November 17, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    There are very few people I have met in my life in which “the mold was broken” after their birth. Chris was one of these guys and his vast array of life experiences proves it. I had the pleasure of playing football with Chris at W&L and continuing our friendship after graduating. Every time we spoke in the recent years it was always a treat to find out what he was up to next – from our fishing trips in Miami to continuing his educational degrees. His enlistment into the armed forces seemed to offer a really exciting future for him. All his natural strengths such as his toughness, leadership and creative wit would have taken him to the top of a military career. I will miss him terribly.God bless him and his family.

  10. 10 John McDonald November 17, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I played football with Chris and roomed with him our senior year (with Sam Obenshain, Mark Oluvic and Paul Burke). He was tough as nails, but he had a great sense of humor and was so fun to be around. He also was a great teammate. If have not already seen the tributes to Chris by the Baltimore media, I suggest you take a look. John Nozemack did an outstanding job describing Chris and how he led his life. I am proud to have called him my friend.

    • 11 Andrew Abernathy November 19, 2009 at 12:50 am

      He was a teammate, a classmate and someone who fought for our Country. He was the embodiment of tough. He was without fear and for that I will never forget him. He is W & L’s Pat Tillman and I hold them both in the highest regard and am thankful for their love of this country.

  11. 12 Beverly Lorig November 17, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    I send sincere condolences to the friends and family of Chris.

    For those at W&L, remember Chris and others in the military by donating supplies for our brave soldiers. Support our troops.

    The soldiers have requested items such as: CANDY AND GUM
    NON-PERISHABLE SNACKS
    TRAVEL SIZE TISSUE PACKS
    AA BATTERIES
    SUNSCREEN
    SOAP BARS & HAND SANITIZER
    SOFT COVER PUZZLE BOOKS (CROSSWORDS, SUDOKU, ETC)

    DONATION BOXES WILL BE PICKED UP FRIDAY MORNING, NOVEMBER 20.

    Beverly Lorig, Director, W&L Career Services

  12. 13 Chris Bleggi November 17, 2009 at 11:19 am

    I was saddened to hear the news the other day about Chris. I will always remember his toughness. I only spent two years with him at W&L but he was a good friend and a great teammate. I totally agree with Pauly that when you get the compliment of being “super tough” from one of the toughest men I have ever been blessed to know it really means something. My thoughts and prayers are with Chris’ family.

  13. 14 Jerry Darrell November 16, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    Omygosh I am so saddended to hear about Chris. First story that comes to mind, my son Jake who had been a ballboy for the Generals went on to kick for ODAC rival Bridgewater. During Chris’s senior season BH20 is playing at Wilson Field. Jake kicks off, Chris fields the ball and returns it 90+ yards for a touchdown. Jake says his coach screamed at him “what the hell are you kicking the ball to that guy (Chris) for”. BH20 also knew how tough Chris was. God bless Chris, his family and all our bravae men in women serving in harms way.

  14. 15 Paul Marasciullo November 16, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    I was deeply saddened to hear about Chris being killed in Afghanistan. I got to know Chris through the football team and our fraternity, Phi Psi at W&L. Chris was a freshman during my senior year and he was the absolute embodiment of gung-ho freshman eager to make his mark. It was impossible not to like him.

    It does not surprise me that Chris would have volunteered for military service. When you earn the label of “super tough” from Gary Fallon, there is no question about your courage. Here is a link to an article from the local ABC affiliate about Chris with quotes from his friend and classmate, John Nozemack -http://www.abc2news.com/news/local/story/Maryland-Man-Dies-in-Afghanistan/YWuF97_fkke2MdMse4xaBQ.cspx .

    I pray for Chris and the Coffland family. May God bless all of our brave men and women who serve on our behalf

  15. 16 Dave Elmes November 16, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Chris was a good guy and a solid student. The paradigm for a terrific Billy Joel song.

  16. 17 Roxanne Dalrymple November 16, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    We didn’t know Chris well but we are deeply saddened by his death. Chris spent some time in San Antonio Texas just before his deployment and we got to know him then. When the guys were here and needed a shower or just wanted to do their laundry we welcomed them into our home. Chris was a great guy and will be missed by all of us here in Texas. My son is there with him and will be attending the memorial in Afganistan to say his goodbyes. God bless his family.

  17. 18 Burr November 16, 2009 at 11:33 am

    I remember Chris well – he was tough as nails, a total team player who was as satisfied after a great block as he was after scoring a touchdown.
    What a sad loss….

  18. 19 Jim Casey November 16, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Chris was a senior when I was a freshman at W&L. Although I did not know him well, I remember going to football games and seeing him play. Sad day for our community. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

    Professor James Casey ’91


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