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Military Family Serves Together

By Spc. Petersi Liu, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait, Sept. 4, 2003 – At least one family in a unit deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom isn't complaining much about family separation. That's because most of the family found themselves together here. A father, his two sons, and a daughter-in-law work in the same unit.

The National Guard's 211th Military Police Company of Clyde, N.C., was reactivated for Operation Iraqi Freedom in June, just five months after returning home from Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The family father is Staff Sgt. Michael Coggins, noncommissioned officer in charge of the company's motor pool. His first son, Spc. Jason Coggins, a military policeman, is married to Sgt. Vicky Coggins, an administrative clerk in the unit. Their son was born two days before Jason left for Operation Iraqi Freedom. His second son, Sgt. Ryan Coggins, a mechanic with two children of his own, works under his father's supervision at the motor pool.

"My old man is very old. He has been in the Army since 1972," said Ryan with a laugh. "Our grandfather is Furman Coggins, and he was a private in the Korean War," said Jason.

The family intended to fight terrorism together. Michael and Jason served together for Enduring Freedom. Ryan had belonged to the 210th Military Police Company, but upon hearing that the 211th was being reactivated for Iraqi Freedom in March, he volunteered to join the unit to serve with his father and brother.

In civilian life, Ryan worked as a direct-care provider for youths who have been in trouble. "I joined the National Guard for education benefits. It is one weekend a month and two weekends a year. You can't beat that," he said with a laugh. He has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and psychology. Jason worked as an independent contractor with a landscaping company.

The staff sergeant and his sons used to enjoy fishing together, they said. But until their forward deployment to Iraq in August, they had to settle for spending their off-duty time at the air-conditioned Morale, Welfare and Recreation tents at Camp Kohema, a small camp adjacent to Camp Arifjan.

(Army Spc. Petersi Liu is assigned to the Coalition Forces Land Component Command in Kuwait.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSgt. Ryan Coggins, left, a mechanic with the National Guard's 211th Military Police Company, shares a light moment with his brother, Spc. Jason Coggins, a military policeman assigned to the company. The brothers serve with their father, Staff Sgt. Michael Coggins, noncommissioned officer in charge of the unit's motor pool. The family members are deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Photo by Spc. Petersi Liu  
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