Memorial service scheduled for today
BILOXI – (AP) Master Sgt. Coater Debose was buried with full military honors Tuesday in Biloxi National Cemetery. He was 55.
The Mississippi Army Reserve soldier died Aug. 19 in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered from small arms fire while conducting security force assistance operations. The incident remains under investigation.
A military memorial service for Debose is set for 2 p.m. Friday at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center near Hattiesburg.
Debose was a native of State Line, Miss., and had lived for decades in coastal Jackson County. He was a communications specialist assigned to the 351st Infantry Regiment, 158th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East. He deployed in April to train Afghan police in and around Kandahar.
Debose joined the Alabama National Guard in May 1983 and transferred to the Army Reserves in 2008. He was deployed to Iraq in 2004.
The Sun Herald reports that Col. Christopher Forbes, commander of Debose’s unit, said Tuesday that Debose scored 327 this year on a physical fitness test. That’s 27 points above the maximum score and was a better showing than many younger soldiers had.
“He was well-loved,” Forbes said. “He was a super soldier. He was a father who loved his family and was probably one of the hardest working, most dedicated soldiers we had.”
Debose is survived by his wife, Juanita; three sons, Latravis Debose of Moss Point, Miss., Christopher Debose, of Parris Island, S.C., and Broderick Debose, of Petal, Miss.; and two daughters, Caronica Jackson, of Hattiesburg, Miss., and Nekeshia Raybon, of Wright Patterson Air Force Base Dayton Ohio.
Debose was promoted posthumously to master sergeant. As relatives sat beside his casket Tuesday, they were presented with five American flags, along with his Purple Heart, Bronze Star and other honors.
Debose’s brother, Jesse Debose, also of State Line, said after the funeral that he was proud of his brother’s legacy.
“We’re all suffering a great loss and a great tragedy because we loved our brother,” Jesse Debose said. “He stood tall among all of us and let us know his military strength and how proud he was of his country, the U.S. Army and also proud of his family. He was a man a lot of people looked up to. We should all leave a legacy like that.”
Other family members didn’t wish to be interviewed, but they released a statement thanking people for their support.
“There are no words to describe how saddened we are by the loss of this great husband, father, soldier and friend,” the statement said. “Coater took his job in the Army very seriously and was very proud of his more than 27 years of service.
When he was selected to be a part of the Security Forces Assistance Team, he knew this was just one more chance to make a difference.
“We are taking comfort in knowing that Coater died doing what he loved, being a soldier. We are incredibly proud of what Coater has achieved in his 55 years. Coater was an accomplished soldier, but his proudest achievement was his family who will miss him the most.”