Retired Army Colonel Alfred E. Coffey was decorated by his government for gallantry in action as a World War II intelligence officer in the Philippines. He was also decorated by Cuba and Colombia for his U.S. Army service as an attaché to those governments during his 32-year military career.
Colonel Coffey, 88, died February 20, 2007, of heart disease at his home in Anthem, Arizona, where he had lived since 2003.
He will be buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery at 10:30 a.m. March 21, 2007.
In Dallas, there will be a family visitation from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at Restland Funeral Home in Dallas. A Dallas service will be at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Restland Funeral Home's Wildwood Chapel.
Colonel Coffey received the Silver Star for gallantry in action for his actions on Biak Island in May 1944. Allied forces were fighting off the coast of Indonesia to liberate the island from Japanese control.
“Just like other guys who were in the thick of it, he never really talked about that part of it,” said his son, Al Coffey II of Anthem. “He just said it was hard, but you did what you had to do.
“That's the kind of guy he was. … He understood what he needed to do, and he disregarded his own sensibilities and gutted it up and did it. He was just one of those old Texas types.”
In May 1944, Colonel Coffey was a 26-year-old Captain who had been separated from his regiment while on a forward reconnaissance mission.
His Silver Star citation said Captain Coffey “consistently served in an outstanding manner” by continuing his reconnaissance work “at great danger to his life.”
Captain Coffey continued to make reports on the enemy positions that assisted the withdrawal of the rest of his regiment. He demonstrated “an unabated devotion to duty under extremely adverse conditions, often under heavy enemy fire. … His efforts contributed decidedly to the success of the organization,” his citation said.
Captain Coffey also received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his actions, but it is not clear whether those honors were for the same battle.
Born in Terrell, Texas, Colonel Coffey grew up in Dallas and graduated from Adamson High School, where he had been an ROTC Second Lieutenant. In 1939, he earned a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M College, now Texas A&M University.
He married Frances Louise Taylor in May 1941. Mrs. Coffey died in 1987.
After graduating from Texas A&M, Colonel Coffey was commissioned a Lieutenant and assigned to Fort Sam Houston before he was sent to the Philippines in late 1941.
After three years in the Pacific, he served in Washington, D.C. Many of his Army assignments were in association with the State Department. His assignments included serving as a temporary aide to Gen. Matthew Bunker Ridgway, with the Inter American Defense Board, the inspector general's office and with embassies in Havana, Cuba, and Bogotá, Colombia.
Colonel Coffey retired October 1, 1971, and returned to Dallas.
He was an active 32nd Degree Mason.
Colonel Coffey will receive full military honors at his Arlington National Cemetery funeral. A caisson followed by a riderless horse will carry him to his gravesite.
He will be buried in his dress uniform with his medals.
“He earned them, he can take them with him,” his son said.
In addition to his son, Colonel Coffey is survived by his daughter, Celeste Quarterman of Conway, South Carolina; four grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.
Memorials may be made to any charity that supports Alzheimer's disease caregivers or research.
COFFEY, ALFRED E
- COL US ARMY
- WORLD WAR II
- DATE OF BIRTH: 02/26/1918
- DATE OF DEATH: 02/20/2007
- BURIED AT: SECTION 13 SITE 10000
- ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard