Fulton’s annual Memorial Day ceremony honored the memory of a native son who gave his life in combat.
SSgt. Keith Coe, 30, died April 27 from the injuries he suffered from a bomb that exploded as he got out of a military vehicle in Khalis, Iraq. Coe spent his childhood in Fulton. Many members of his family still live here. Coe spent the last 10 years in Florida.
Coe’s aunt, Pam Walts, held a large picture of Coe’s military portrait throughout the ceremonies at Veterans Park across from City Hall and at the Fulton War Memorial, where a brick with Coe’s name on it was laid alongside bricks honoring other veterans. Several family members attended the ceremonies.
She said the family was honored. “I’m just sorry we had to do this,” she added, fighting tears.
Family members have painted a portrait of a young man who overcame a difficult start by enlisting in the Army. He gained the respect of his peers and rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant. Coe married and became a father to three children.
“He was a funny guy who loved to make people laugh,” said childhood friend Jason Hutchinson.
Standing alongside the family in his dress military uniform was PFC Scott Reynolds of Palermo, whose mother-in-law is Coe’s aunt. The 10th Mountain Division soldier based at Fort Drum leaves the Army this week after serving a tour of duty in Iraq.
Reynolds says he’s seen too many ceremonies like today’s, but he was happy to be here for Coe’s family. “It helps show them how many people care,” he said. “People appreciate what they did over there.”
Veterans placed a wreath at the monument honoring those who died in combat, adding red, white and blue flowers and an American flag. Ceremonial guns fired and “Taps” was played. There was a prayer and then Coe’s brick was placed in the Walk of History.
“He loved what he did,” said Walts. “We’re forever going to remember him as a hero and this just solidifies that,” said Hutchinson.