I’m not a hero, I’m just a grateful survivor. -Col Coates
This Monday a church member from Littleton was honored in a Veteran’s Day celebration. Originally meant to be a joint service project cleaning up and performing maintenance at Fort Logan Cemetery and then culminating in a ceremony at noon; the service project portion of the event was postponed due to weather.
The ceremony was held to honor Brother Bob Coates who served in three different wars. Coates was born in 1924 in Arizona and enlisted in the US Army Corps in 1942 when he was 18 years old. During WWII he flew 36 combat missions as co-pilot in the 381st Bombing Group, dropping bombs on military targets in Germany. Despite being shot down over German-occupied France, he and his crew escaped to Allied occupied territory.
In 1947 he joined the newly-formed US Air Force. In 1968 at age 44 he served in Vietnam as commander of the 9th Special Operations Squadron. After the war, he served as commander of Air Field at Andrews Air Force Base.
Channel 7 ABC news reported on the ceremony during that evening’s newscast. Below is the clip from that newscast.
Coates has been declared killed or missing in action three different times in his military service. Also speaking at the ceremony was Col Sperry Redd. Battalion Commander 10th Special Forces Group. Col Redd spoke about how the Lord protected him in his service. He shared the story of his first time in combat when flying in a blacked out plane into Northern Iraq to parachute in to hook up with Kurdish fighters 2 days prior to the Invasion of Iraq in March 2003. As they crossed into Iraqi airspace they started to take heavy flack and the pilot was swerving the plane all around. They were tethered in the back but flying up and down into the ceiling and then crashing to the floor. He could see the flak exploding around them and then could see tracer bullets coming through the fuselage of the plane. He thought this was the end, and thought of his wife and three young children and prayed as he had never prayed before, not even on his mission. Somehow he was not hit and was able to make it out the door into the black night.
Many members of Coates’ family were present to help honor his sacrifices to this great nation. Thank you to Brother Coats, Brother Redd, and all others who do so much to protect our freedom!