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Army Pfc. Coleman W. Hinkefent

Died December 20, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

19, of Coweta, Okla.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany; died Dec. 20, 2008 in Homburg, Germany of a non-combat related illness.

Coweta soldier dies of illness

The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Family and friends knew the dangers Coleman Hinkefent could face while deployed to Iraq, but a deadly disease didn’t occur to them.

Hinkefent, an Army private first class from Coweta, died Saturday at an Army hospital in Homburg, Germany, the Department of Defense announced Monday. The 19-year-old succumbed after a short battle with acute leukemia led to liver failure, family members said.

Hinkefent was assigned to the 1st Armored Division when he became sick in early December. On Dec. 10, he was flown to Germany, where he was diagnosed with a fast-acting form of leukemia.

Randy Crook, pastor of Heritage Bible Church, said the Hinkefents were founding members of the church, which was formed in 2001 by several families.

Many in the congregation were praying for Coleman Hinkefent as he deployed to Iraq, but didn’t dream his biggest enemy would attack inside his own body.

“You just don’t think about a 19-year-old having liver failure,” Crook said.

Win Noren, a church member and family friend said those who knew Coleman Hinkefent are hurting but are consoled by knowing he was a devoted Christian.

“I think the hardest part was how quickly it all happened,” Noren said. “This was not the kind of bad news about Coleman we ever expected to receive.”

As family members flew to Germany to be with Hinkefent, they kept in touch with church members via a blog called Rooting for Coleman.

Noren communicated with Hinkefent’s parents, Eric and Belinda, via phone and e-mail and updated the blog regularly.

Noren said the couple sent updates about their son’s condition often, sometimes several times each day. Family and friends then left comments on the blog, with many writing short prayers.

“In some of Eric’s comments he sent me, he talked about reading those prayers to Coleman,” Noren said. “I think it was a very powerful way to be involved.”

The church held a prayer service for Coleman Hinkefent on Dec. 12 and dedicated Sunday services to him Dec. 14.

Fallen soldier remembered

The Associated Press

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — An Oklahoma soldier who died in a German hospital earlier this month was remembered Tuesday as a young man who loved his family and those around him.

Several hundred mourners packed a Broken Arrow church for a two-hour celebration of the life of Pfc. Coleman Wayne Hinkefent, 19, of Coweta. Hinkefent died on Dec. 20 of liver failure and was also undergoing treatment for acute leukemia.

Just two weeks before he fell ill, Hinkefent was serving in Iraq, having arrived there in July. He enlisted in the Army last January.

Hinkefent was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division at Baumholder, Germany.

Several family members and friends offered perspectives into his life, including his father, Eric, who was at his son’s bedside when he died.

Eric Hinkefent, sometimes choking with emotion, chronicled for mourners his son’s early life, his years of schooling and his passion for the game of hockey.

In later years, Eric Hinkefent said, his son’s interests would turn to car racing, where he made a name for himself.

It was that place behind the wheel of a roaring machine which led to his son being assigned to drive the Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle and the Bradley fighting vehicle in Iraq, the father said.

Eric Hinkefent said his son loved the Army, and completed his basic training at Fort Benning, Ga.

His father shared with mourners a letter he received from his son just three days before completing basic training. In that letter, the young Hinkefent said, “I have changed for the better in many ways.”

The soldier credited the Army with giving him the “will to do my best, no matter what the task.”

Pfc. was inspired by a friend to enlist

The Associated Press

Coleman W. Hinkefent was 17 when a friend enlisted. Hinkefent sat across from his father and said, “Dad, he did something.” He then asked his father to go with him to the recruiter the next day.

“Some might say that the Army gave me back a man,” his father, Eric, wrote, “But I dare say I was looking at one that day.”

Hinkefent, 19, of Coweta, Okla., died Dec. 20 in Hamburg, Germany, of a fast-acting leukemia. He was assigned to Baumholder.

“I think the hardest part was how quickly it all happened,” said Win Noren, a family friend. “This was not the kind of bad news about Coleman we ever expected to receive.”

Spc. Kyle Hall befriended Hinkefent during training in Baumholder. At a barbecue at Hall’s home, Hall remembered Hinkefent eyeing his combat awards display.

“He looked at them and said, ‘This is what I want,’” Hall said.

He also is survived by his mother, Belinda.

“He had a joy that attracted and changed and challenged people wherever he went. His suffering has done the same,” wrote his father. “In the end, few men do anything that really matters and fewer still finish well. I know a man who managed both.”

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