Meet the Veteran: Staff Sgt. Clifton "Ray" Coffey

Learn more about U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Clifton "Ray" Coffey.

The Coffey Family
The Coffey Family in front of their new, mortgage-free home built by Henley Homes, a Southern Living Custom Builder Member, in Liberty Hill, TX. From left to right: Melanie, Ray, Justin, Cody, Briana
Photo: Buff Strickland

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Clifton “Ray” Coffey joined the military in 1998 after knowing he’d be a Marine his whole life. Following his basic training, Coffey was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, where he was trained as a Forward Observer.

In 2003 Coffey was deployed to Iraq. At one point during a convoy, Coffey’s unit was ambushed by a group of insurgents. During the attack, Coffey suffered wounds from enemy fire to his back and legs. Despite his own injuries, Coffey put himself in the line of fire in order to provide first aid to his fellow soldiers. Following his return to the United States, Coffey began training for another combat deployment. In February 2004 he was deployed to Iraq for a second time. During one particular patrol, a large insurgent force ambushed Coffey and his fellow Marines. Coffey quickly lead his unit out of the “kill zone” and immediately initiated a counter attack that resulted in an intense firefight. During the attack, Coffey was wounded by the blast of an improvised explosive device (IED). Despite his wounds, he continued to lead the attack and selflessly exposed himself to enemy gunfire, creating a diversion, which allowed his wounded Marines to evacuate. He was wounded once again from enemy grenades and a gunshot wound that shattered his right ankle. As a result of the multiple blasts, Coffey lost consciousness and suffered shrapnel wounds to his head, neck, back, knees, ankles, and teeth. Despite bleeding from his eyes, ears, and nose, as well as his body being covered with shrapnel, Coffey regained consciousness and continued to fight. Following the ambush, he was medically evacuated and treated for his injuries. Upon his return to the United States, Coffey was promoted to Staff Sgt. He medically retired after 13 years of service.

Some of Coffey’s long-term injuries include: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a traumatic brain injury, cognitive disorders, memory loss, hearing loss, vision loss, and damage to his back, ankles, knees, feet, and teeth. He is currently undergoing surgeries for sinus, jaw, and teeth restoration. As a result of his service, Coffey was presented with numerous awards, some of which include a Purple Heart, a Navy and Marine Achievement Medal, and a Bronze Star with the combat “V” device. He currently lives in Texas with his wife, Melanie, and their three children – daughter, Briana and sons, Cody and Justin.