Friday, April 27, 2012

In Memory of a Hero

Arlington National Cemetery
Today, we are burying my grandfather at Arlington National Cemetery. My grandfather, the war hero, is being laid to rest in the only place he every really wanted to be. I am honored to be able to attend a ceremony in such a hallowed place, and am proud to be able to say that my grandpa is one of the people who is special and honorable enough, who gave enough for his country, to be able to laid to rest in this sacred location.

The gravestone being laid in Washington State
The front of the ceremony program from Arlington
Inside the program
My grandfather's obituary from the newspaper in Washington
The second half of the obituary
 The obituary reads as follows:
"Passed away November 23, 2011, after many years of fighting prostate cancer and recently bladder cancer. Born to Dorothy Imogene and Gleanis O. Cooper, Kellogg, IA. Richard joined the US Army in 1947 at the age of 17. Serving in the Korean War as a squad leader in the I&R Platoon, 31st Regimental Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, X CORP, he was one of the "FEW" who survived the bitter battle (4 days, 5 nights) on the east side of the Chosin (Changjin) Reservoir, Korea, in the winter of 1950. Air evacuated to Battlecreek, MI, he recovered from his wounds and frostbitten hands and feet. He then went on to join the 11th Airborne Division stationed at Ft. Campbell, KY, where he earned his much coveted paratrooper badge. From 1956-1959 he was assigned to the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group in the Philippine Islands. Returning to the US, he joined the 82nd Airborne Division, 1962-1965, at Ft. Bragg, NC. In 1965-1966, he was assigned as an advisor to the Japanese Airborne Brigade in Japan. In 1966 he was transferred to the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) in Taiwan Republic of China (1966-1969) where he was promoted to the rank of Command Sergeant Major (CSM). From 1969-1970 he served as CSM, HHC, 1st BDE, 101st Airborne Division in the Vietnam War. His medals include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Medal (3rd), Joint Service Commendation, Army Commendation (3 OLC), Good Conduct (7th Award) and others. His most coveted were the Combat Infantry Badge, 2nd Award, and his Master Parachutist Badge. Honorably discharged in 1970, Richard and his family remained in Taipei, Taiwan, where he worked as plant manager for General Instruments Corp for nine years before returning to the US. Richard is survived by his four children who dearly love him: Tamara Cooper Tenner, Spokane, WA; Craig A. Cooper and his wife Sharon, Woodbridge, VA; Ellise Cooper Anderson and her husband Bruce, Camas, WA; Kimberly A. Cooper Phebus and her husband Brett, Spokane, WA; and six grandchildren: Mandara Tenner, Spokane, WA; Larissa Anderson, Seattle, WA; Christopher Anderson, Camas, WA; Lindsay Cooper West, Woodbridge, VA; Natalie Cooper, Woodbridge, VA; Blake Phebus, Spokane, WA. His brother Roger Cooper and his wife, Eileen, Charlotte, NC; his wife, Judy Fisette and her two children, Post Falls, ID. 

'Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." -Henry David Thoreau' 

Full Military Honors Service is planned in the Spring at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia."

My grandfather was a military man through-and-through. He loved what he did, and he was proud of his actions. He carried a lot of deep memories, though, and I know that there was a lot that he went through that he never shared with anyone. I will never forget going to visit the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials here with him in DC, and the distant look in his eyes - the way he was transported back to days and experiences that I could never understand, and the way he remembered those of his friends who he was unable to save.

He suffered a lot in the end, with multiple types of cancer. All he really ever wanted was to be buried at Arlington. I am happy that we are bringing him home.

"And I'm proud to be on this peaceful piece of property,
I'm on sacred ground and I'm in the best of company,
And I'm thankful for those thankful for the things I've done,
I can rest in peace, I'm one of the chosen ones,
I made it to Arlington.

And every time I hear, twenty-one guns,

I know they brought another hero home, to us.

We're thankful for those thankful for the things we've done,

We can rest in peace, 'cause we were the chosen ones,
We made it to Arlington, yea, dust to dust
Don't cry for us, we made it to Arlington."

-Arlington, Trace Adkins


Caitlin said...

This was such a beautiful post--completely honest and heartfelt. I'll be thinking of your family this weekend. Your grandfather sounds like a true role model and a great person.

Lindsay said...

Thanks, Caitlin <3