The Department of Defense has confirmed the death of a local soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn.
Unanswered questions linger for a family who lost their soldier in Iraq. Sergeant Mark Cofield died July 17, 2011 from non-combat related injuries in Baghdad.
According to his family, this was a man who was promoted to Sergeant just 18 months after basic training. Coming from a military background, Sgt. Cofield’s father was in the Air Force for many years and recently re-enlisted into the military, this time into the Army. His brother is also a soldier who served two tours overseas. With almost her entire family a part of the military, his sister Sara Cofield had trouble believing the news of her brother’s death.
"Never thought it'd be (us), (we) always thought (we) were the lucky ones to have all three of them come back. So that was hard," Sara said.
Friends and family are left wondering what happened overseas to Sgt. Cofield, a man they watched grow up.
"(His death) just comes so close to home and just hits your heart and makes it all real," family friend Suzi Dixon said.
"There's going to be such a hole in this community's heart because Mark was all about love," neighbor Liz Cameron said.
According to those who knew him best, the 25-year-old Sgt. Cofield excelled at everything, especially athletics. A hockey player for most of his life, he eventually competed as a part of the Rampart High School hockey team. While in Iraq, he started running marathons and even won a few.
"Mark had one of the biggest hearts of anybody I've ever met," family friend Samantha Wolf said.
"He had the strength and compassion that normally you don't see together," family friend Ester Mabry said.
While gathered in the Cofield home, stories and memories of Sgt. Cofield overflow with smiles, love, and warmth. But his sister Sara will remember him most for the times they shared together cooking, gardening, and just being a family.
"I'm proud to say that my brother served, that's a good thing. He not only was a soldier and served our country and will be missed as a part of it but he'll be missed as a brother, and as a son, and as a friend," Sara said choking back tears.
His body was expected to arrive at Fort Bragg in North Carolina late Tuesday night. Stay with 11 News to you bring information about his memorial services.
His mother, Tari Cofield, is an active member of Blue Star Mothers of America (a national organization) and was an integral part of created a chapter for the Southern Colorado area.
For more information about the program, the websites are:
Rampart Range Blue Star Mothers: www.rrbsm.webs.com
Pikes Peak Gold Star Mothers: www.ppgsm.webs.com