|Birth: ||Sep. 16, 1920|
|Death: ||Apr. 24, 1966, Vietnam|
In Memory of ........ Col. William Earl Cooper.
*** Col. Cooper was awarded the Air Force Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with 7 oak leaf clusters and the Purple Heart. He was promoted to the rank of Colonel during the period he
was maintained Missing in Action.
*** Colonel Cooper was the squadron commander of the 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Korat Airbase, Thailand. On April 24, 1966, he was the pilot of a Thunderchief Fighter (F-105D) on a strike mission on a highway-railroad bridge north of Hanoi, North Vietnam. As his aircraft approached the target, it was hit by a surface to air Missile, broke in half and crashed. His remains were not recovered. His name is inscribed on the Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial
You may be gone, no longer living on this earth; but you will live on - in the memories of your family and friends. There will always be a part of you living in those who knew you. You will live on because we remember you!
WILLIAM EARL COOPER - Air Force - COL - O6
Date of Birth Sept 16, 1920 - Born in Alabama.
From: ALBANY, GA
Marital Status: Married and has five children.
***** JOHN COOPER - son from Hobbs, NM.
DAD, I'm speaking on behalf of everyone that loves you. We all miss you and want you to come home. There are additional members in the family, now, from Carolyn, Bill and me, Amy and Clay that you haven't seen. They are growing up pretty quick, so you need to hurry up and get home. We will be waiting, however long it takes. We all love you and always will and we will never, ever give up till the day we die.
I LOVE YOU, JOHNNY
Monday, May 24, 1999
***** "United States World War II Army Enlistment Records"
Name: William E Cooper
Event Type: Military Service
Event Date: 16 Sept 1940
Event Place: Albany, Georgia, United States
Citizenship Status: citizen
Birth Year: 1920
Education Level: 4 years of high school
Civilian Occupation: Express messengers and railway mail clerks
Marital Status: Single, without dependents
Military Rank: Private
Army Branch: Infantry
Army Component: National Guard
His tour began on Apr 24, 1966
Casualty was on April 24, 1966
In NORTH VIETNAM
Hostile, died while missing, FIXED WING - PILOT
AIR LOSS, CRASH ON LAND
Body was not recovered
Status (in 1973: Missing In Action
Panel 06E - Line 131
Other Personnel In Incident: Jerry D. Driscoll (released POW) in same flight
On April 24, 1966, a multi-plane strike force departed Korat
Airbase, Thailand on a strike mission on a highway-railroad bridge north of Hanoi. The target was a vital link, bearing traffic coming down from China.
The Squadron Commander (and commander of the mission), LtCol. William E. Cooper was in one flight of four F105s. In another of the flights was 1Lt. Jerry D. Driscoll.
As the first flight approached the target, Cooper's F105D was hit by a surface-to-air missile (SAM). The plane subsequently broke in half, and the front section, with canopy intact, was observed as it fell into a flat spin.
Witnessed did not see Cooper eject and and believed the he went down with the aircraft, but there was doubt enough that the Air Force determined him Missing in Action rather than killed.
Just afterwards, 1Lt. Jerry D. Driscoll (code-name Pecan 4) was inbound to the target, about ten miles north, going approximately 550 knots (about 600 miles per hour) when his aircraft was struck in the tail by anti-aircraft fire, causing it to catch fire. Flames were blowing out the back twice as long as the aircraft. Others in the flight radioed to Driscoll that he was on fire, and he immediately prepared to eject as the aircraft commenced a roll.
Driscoll punched out at about 1000 feet, with the aircraft nearly inverted, and as a result, his parachute barely opened before he was on the ground. He had removed his parachute and was starting to take off his heavy flight suit when he was surrounded by about twenty North Vietnamese and captured.
Driscoll was moved immediately to the "Heartbreak Hotel" in Hanoi where his interrogation (and torture) began. Driscoll was a POW for the next seven years, and was released in Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973.
Just before his release, one returning POW was told by his interrogators that LtCol. Cooper had died in the crash of the aircraft.
At least one intelligence report, however, indicates that Cooper was captured alive. The U.S. believes the Vietnamese could account for Cooper and his name has been included on lists brought before the Vietnamese in recent years as one of scores of "discrepancy cases" it is felt can be resolved.
When the Peace Accords were signed ending American involvement in Vietnam, 591 American prisoners were released. Experts at the time expressed dismay that "some hundreds" expected to be released were not, yet only perfunctory efforts to secure the release of the others were made.
William E. Cooper was awarded the Air Force Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with 7 oak leaf clusters and the Purple Heart. He was promoted to the rank of Colonel during the period he
was maintained Missing in Action. He is married and has five children.
Air Force Cross
Awarded posthumously for actions during the Vietnam War
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pride in presenting the Air Force Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Colonel [then Major] William Earl Cooper (AFSN: 0-52496), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force as Pilot of an F-105 Thunderchief and Commander of the 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Korat Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, in action on 24 April 1966. On that date, Lieutenant Colonel Cooper was the commander of a composite strike force of thirteen F-105 aircraft and 20 support aircraft whose mission was to destroy a vitally important military target in North Vietnam. With full knowledge of the vast defense network aligned against them, Colonel Cooper briefed the strike force to keep him in sight during the flight but to remain at a lower altitude. His alone took the risk of entering the effective missile envelope to assure target acquisition. Although encountering several severe thunderstorms, he displayed superb navigation and airmanship in bringing the strike force precisely over the pre-planned check point and setting the force directly on line to the target. Approximately 30 miles from the target, the countryside erupted with the heaviest anti-aircraft artillery barrage ever encountered by an attacking United States force. Colonel Cooper instructed his pilots to take necessary evasive action while he remained on course to insure accurate navigation through the clouds which were obstructing the mission route. To further complicate the situation, he was advised by radio contact that a hostile missile launch was imminent. Again disregarding his own safety, Colonel Cooper instructed his pilots to take evasive action while he remained on course. At this point hostile fire disabled his radio. Without radio contact with his pilots, Colonel Cooper pressed the attack with the strike force following below the clouds for visual target sighting. At this critical point, Colonel Cooper's aircraft received a direct hit from the hostile fire. The extraordinary heroism and exceptional airmanship displayed by Colonel Cooper are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Action Date: 24-Apr-66
Service: Air Force
Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Company: 469 Tactical Fighter Squadron
Division: Korat Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand
Arlington National Cemetery
Plot: Memorial Section K, Site 220
Created by: Eddieb
Record added: Dec 22, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 63240759