Cooper, C Richard (Clarence / Coop / Dick/Ricky), 1st Platoon

Cooper, C Richard (Clarence / Coop / Dick/Ricky), 1st Platoon

3 October 1945 – 25 November 1968
Arlington National Cemetery, VA 22212

Clarence Richard Cooper, Jr. was also known as “C. Richard”, “Dick”, Rich”, “Rick”, “Ricky”,  and “Coop”.

First Lieutenant C. Richard Cooper Jr., was born on October 3, 1945 in East St Louis, IL to C. Richard Cooper Sr. and Dorothy May Alexander/Cobb. Coop’s parents were originally from Hammond, IN (near Chicago) where his father was an employee of American Steel Foundries in Granite, IL. Coop had a sister, Carole Ann Cobb-Cooper, 7-years older. Although born in East St Louis, a job relocation in the early 1950’s took Coop’s parents back home to Hammond, IN (South-East Chicago, IL).  In Hammond were his Paternal Grandparents, an Uncle, Charles A. Cooper (USMC TSgt 1943-1945 – a veteran of Iwo Jima, 5th MarDiv) and three 1st Cousins.

After Coop’s parents divorced, Coop moved to Radnor, PA and on to Hampton, VA where he attended Hampton HS. In Hampton VA were his “Alexander” Grandparents and Aunts and 1st Cousins.

Coop went on to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, NY, from 1963 to June 1967 on a NROTC Scholarship (Marine Corps option) attaining a BS in Psychology. Coop was active with the Chi Phi, the Inter-fraternity Council and a Soccer player. With the Marine Corps Option, Coop would have most likely attended the USMC Bulldog Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) in the summer of 1966.

Upon graduation from RPI in June 1967 Coop accepted a regular commission in the USMC and reported to Officers Basic School Class 1-68 Alpha Company 1st Platoon. Upon graduation in Nov 1967 Coop got his orders to USN Flight School in Pensacola, FL

Coop was killed in a flight training accident at NAS Pensacola on November 25, 1968. He was laid to rest at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery. Coop had plans to visit his father and step-mother in December 1968, now living in Spartanburg, SC and to meet for the first time his 6 month old half-brother Kevin.

USMC Resume:

USMC Home-of-Record Greensburg, PA – father’s address.
NROTC (Marine Corps Option) Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY Class of 1967
The Basic School Class 1-68 Alpha Company, 1st Platoon, Jun-Nov 1967
Pensacola FL Flight School, Nov 1967 – Nov 1968.

Personal Reflections about Coop:
From Andy Solum, 17 April 2015: “We had already successfully completed a three or four flight spin syllabus in the T2B and were flying the airplane pretty aggressively in the gunnery pattern. I think Cooper was number three or four in a five plane air to air gunnery flight. The fifth plane was the tractor, towing the target banner. The flight was lead by a student, Dave Wilbur. Strangely enough our Dave Wilbur was the only student in that flight who survived/lived through flight training . There were some squids in the flight also, who were killed later in training flying the F-9.

Completing the air to air gunnery training flight, the flight was descending to NAS Pensacola to 1000 feet or so to enter the overhead break. Cooper under ran the flight, continued to descend and hit the water. Someone in the flight observed his descent, called him on the guard frequency and told him to pull up, but got no response. It was not unusual for us to stop monitoring or turn off guard as the USAF seemed to use it as “Air Force Common” and cluttered up the freq. So it was suspected that he was not monitoring the guard channel, hence the lack of response. I’m sure he was looking up at the flight when he hit the water.”

Carole Ann Cooper/Markland, 20 Sept 2015: “When Ricky was growing up in Chicago as a child he loved to play with erector sets. He would play for hours. Often his sister Carole Ann would babysit him. During those hours she would read to him and listen to his stories. Ricky loved to put action into everything. Outside play time was cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians and the infamous cap gun. Carole use to bribe him with cap gun refills to come in and take time to eat and take a bath and just to sit still. Ricky was the type of child that was on the go morning till night. Once inside Ricky would enjoy whatever instrument he could get his hands on. Before lessons Ricky was self-taught he just had that ear. He belonged to the church choir and played the organ at Sunday services. After moving from Chicago to Radnor, PA his highlight of the day was being able to go over to the Valley Forge Military Academy and watch the cadets practice their marching cadence. He would stand on the side and just mimic what was just witnessed. He loved the creek that ran behind his house, a neighbor introduced him to trapping. He would awaken early to go along the bank of the creek and set traps for muskrats. Later he would frighten everyone in the house with his catch on the fur stretcher. Only to be screamed at to stop. To say the least Ricky was very active. He was also a funny, sincere, prankster, witty and most of all loved. After his parents divorced Ricky spent time at both households. His older sister Carole Ann got married moved to West Conshohocken, PA to start her family. When everyone gathered back in Hampton VA Ricky would be playing his music on his record player strumming along with his guitar entertaining everyone. Family members would discuss the past few years that had gone by with their service stories, base, barracks, ranks and love of the forces. When in High School Ricky decided his path was to enlist. He had a girlfriend but they broke up not because they didn’t love each other but for the desire to accomplish their (his) dreams. He said in all fairness his heart was bleeding to become a Marine and was not sure how long or where this would take him.

Ricky’s family got that dreaded call that he was killed in a flight training accident on November 25, 1968. Ricky was given the proper Marine burial at Arlington National Cemetery. His mother Dorothy received the flag and his father Richard received the sword.”