Jim Coan

James Philip Coan was born in San Antonio, Texas on July 15, 1942. Jim was raised in Tucson, Arizona, and attended public schools there. He graduated from Tucson High School where he lettered in three sports and was elected Letterman’s Club President and Senior Class President his senior year. He was the Southern Arizona discus champion his junior and senior years and was selected for the Arizona All State Track Team in 1960. To avoid having to take mandatory ROTC at the University of Arizona, Jim joined the Arizona Army National Guard after high school graduation. Jim later enrolled at the University of Arizona and was a Guardsman while attending college, attaining the rank of sergeant. After he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree, he signed up for Marine Corps Officer Candidate School and received a commission as an Officer of Marines in 1966. Jim commanded a tank platoon in Vietnam with Alpha Company, 3rd Tank Bn., from 1967-68. His platoon received a Meritorious Unit Citation for sustained superior combat performance. He was awarded a Purple Heart, Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, Presidential Unit Citation (2), and several other decorations for his Vietnam War service. Returning home from Vietnam, Jim was assigned to 2nd Tank Bn. at Camp Lejeune where he was given command of Company “C”, the only M-103A2 tank unit on the East Coast. He fondly remembers renting a little house at Surf City, a little beach community located 20 miles outside of Jacksonville. Co-eds from Mary Washington College were frequent visitors. After attaining the rank of Captain, USMCR, Jim left active duty in 1970 to pursue a career in city government. He subsequently earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from San Diego State University. After a stint as an administrative assistant to the City Manager of Tucson, Jim decided that local government politics was not his cup of tea. He then took a position at the Arizona Youth Center north of Tucson as a youth counselor, and he decided this was the right career choice for him. Jim moved to Stockton, California to commence a 30-year career with the California Youth Authority. In 1976, Jim attended a dance where he met his future bride, Sandra Sue Klatt. She was a psychiatric technician at Stockton State Hospital. On September 4, 1976, Jim and Sandra were married in Morris Chapel on the University of the Pacific campus in Stockton. Jim and wife Sandra presently reside in Sierra Vista, Arizona with their Miniature Schnauzer named “Schnitzel.” They raised three children, two daughters and a son. They will celebrate 40 years of marriage in 2016. Jim is a life member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, VFW, and USMC Vietnam Tankers Assn. He is the author of Con Thien: The Hill of Angels, a non-fiction Vietnam War history book published by the University of Alabama Press in 2004. Jim was the Commandant of the local Marine Corps League Detachment in Sierra Vista from 2014-16. He then joined the Honor Flight Organization which recruits World War II and Korean War veterans to be flown from Tucson back to Washington, D. C. to visit the memorials there.