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Assistant U.S. Attorney Honored for Service in Iraq

Oct. 14, 2008 — Assistant U.S. Attorney Major Coleman, who spent 14 months in Iraq as a resident legal advisor to the Iraqi judiciary and a multinational task force of lawyers and investigators, has received an award for his service.
Coleman received the Attorney General's Special Commendation Award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., before he returned to the territory.
"I would have extended my time there if I could," he said. "To go to a country that is trying to establish itself as an independent nation and make a difference — I know I made a difference."
Coleman came to the U.S. Attorney's Office on St. Thomas in 2004 from the Southern District of Indiana in Indianapolis. He serves as a criminal assistant U.S. attorney. Before heading to Iraq, Coleman left St. Thomas in July 2007 and traveled to Washington, where he received several weeks of training in cultural awareness at the George Schultz School of Diplomacy, operated by the State Department. He received an additional two weeks of training at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq before he was assigned to a law-and-order task force in Rusafa, a suburb across the Tigris River outside of Baghdad.
While in Rusafa, Coleman stayed on a military base, where he lived and worked. Whenever he left the military base, Coleman said, he was transported in a security detail and had to wear full body armor, including a helmet.
During his first week in Iraq, rockets were fired at the embassy where he was staying, Coleman said. One morning he and his roommate were awakened when a rocket shook the walls of the building he was in and debris fell on the roof.
Despite such incidents, Coleman said he enjoyed his time in Iraq and believes that the judicial system in Iraq will maintain "a good sense of judicial integrity."
Coleman is married to Tanya E. Van Blake-Coleman.

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