Located at:  1683 Mars Hill Road

Mailing Address:  738 First Street

Sutersville, PA 15083-1038


August "Auggie" Coffer

Born August 10, 1922  •  Went to be with our Lord on Friday, December 9, 2016

August Coffer, 94, of Lowber, went to be with the Lord on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016.

He was born Aug. 10, 1922, in Lowber, a son of the late John and Rose Coffer.

He was a retired coal miner, having worked at the Ocean 5 Mine in Smithdale. He was a veteran of the Army, having served in World War II. He fought in the European Theater, including campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and Germany. August attended The Church, in Sutersville. He was an avid hunter and fisherman.

In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by four brothers, John, Anthony, William, and Martin Coffer; five sisters, Mollie, Julia, Ann, Sophia, and Mary. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Virginia Fasekas Coffer; his son, Dennis August Coffer, and his wife, Gloria Jean, of Hunker; two daughters, Carol Froelich, and her husband, William, of Lincoln, Calif., and Sandy Coffer, of Level Green; and a brother, Edward Coffer, and his wife, Margaret, of Penn; two grandchildren, Charles "Dee" Roadman and his wife, Angela, and Cheyenne Tollari, and her husband, Chris; and three great-grand children.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, at The Church, 1683 Mars Hill Road, Sewickley Township, where services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, with his pastor, the Rev. Frank Rocco, officiating. Military honors will be afforded by the VFW Post 33 of Greensburg. Interment will be private in the West Newton Cemetery.

RICHARD F. DODSON MEMORIAL HOME entrusted with arrangements.

Lowber WWII veteran recalls horrors at liberated Nazi camp

CRAIG SMITH | Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, 11:00 p.m.

August Coffer of Lowber served in the infantry and saw combat in North Africa, Italy, France and Germany with the 45th Division.

Army Cpl. August Coffer was witness to the brutality of World War II, battling the Germans in Anzio, Sicily, Salerno, Rome, southern France and Germany.

But nothing prepared him for what he saw on April 29, 1945, when his unit liberated the first concentration camp established by the Nazis in Dachau. It haunts him to this day.

“I just can't explain it,” said Coffer, 93, wiping away tears with hands swollen with arthritis from working decades in the coal mines around Lowber in Sewickley Township after the war. “I was just a young man. How can a person do that?”

On Veterans Day 70 years later, Coffer, slowed by time and hard work in the mines, knows what this day means — “my country, my flag.”

“We have a beautiful country; you fight for it,” he said.

The camp at Dachau was established in 1933 to house political prisoners and served as a model for all subsequent Nazi concentration camps. It was a “school of violence” for the SS men who commanded it.

In the 12 years it existed, more than 200,000 people from all over Europe were imprisoned there and in its subsidiary camps. More than 41,000 were murdered.

Prisoners at Dachau were used as forced laborers and as guinea pigs in medical experiments. The American troops who liberated the camp found more than 30 railroad cars filled with bodies in various states of decomposition.

“I looked down at the cars, all those dead bodies,” said Coffer, who was 21 then. “I'll never forget it.”

He came upon a man sitting in the doorway of a railroad car and went over to him.

“Hey, buddy, how are you doing?” Coffer said.

There was no response. The man was dead.

“That was hard on my heart. It shook me,” Coffer said.

Inside the camp, there were more bodies and 30,000 survivors, most severely emaciated.

The American soldiers saw the room where prisoners were told to disrobe and hang their clothes on hooks on the wall. They saw the gas chambers and, finally, the ovens where bodies were burned.

Coffer snapped a handful of photos that showed the atrocities that occurred at Dachau.

“People should look at these pictures,” said his wife of 68 years, Virginia, 88. “He still has all the memories. He can't forget.”

A memorial site on the grounds of the former concentration camp was established in 1965 to help others remember the crimes of the Nazis.

“People need to hear about it,” said their son, Dennis Coffer, 67, of Hunker, a Vietnam War veteran. “There's not too many of him left.”

August Coffer wiped away one more tear before explaining why he is crying on this particular Veterans Day.

“No one has ever asked me about my service before,” he said.

August Coffer of Lowber served in the infantry and saw combat in North Africa, Italy, France and Germany with the 45th Division.