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Memorial Gates Plaque Honors Chris Coffland '88

Washington and Lee honored its late alumnus Chris Coffland, a member of the Class of 1988, by dedicating to his memory a plaque on the Memorial Gates on Saturday, May 4, during Reunion Weekend. He was killed in Afghanistan on Nov. 13, 2009.

Many of Chris’ classmates, who were back on campus for their 25th reunion, attended the short ceremony.

Chris captained the Generals’ football and lacrosse teams. After traveling around the world — playing professional football in Finland, living with Pygmies in Africa, rubbing elbows with Hollywood stars, earning a master’s degree in anthropology — Chris joined the Army Reserve a month before he turned 42, the enlistment cut-off date. An intelligence specialist, he had volunteered for the mission on which he and two others were killed by an improvised explosive device, just two weeks after he arrived in Afghanistan.

Addressing the gathering at the Memorial Gates, Chris’ classmate and football teammate John Packett described Chris’ “whirlwind tour of life.”

“Chris is the picture next to Renaissance man in the dictionary: a world-class athlete, humanitarian, fashionista (depending on your clothing taste), soldier, brother, son, uncle, and, most importantly, true friend to everyone he touched,” Packett said.

“His run through this world was like I have never seen or probably will ever see again. He never let too much moss grow underneath his feet before embarking on a new adventure. He lived every minute of every hour of every day.”

Chris’ father, David Coffland of Baltimore, also spoke at the gathering. On behalf of the family, he thanked the W&L administration and all of his son’s friends “for the tribute honoring Chris and all fallen heroes on this gate.”

He added: “It should remain foremost in our minds that all alumni remembered here on the Memorial Gates gave the ultimate sacrifice in order that we may live in peace and freedom.”