Well, this must be the week for late awards for valor. This time, retired Senior Chief Clarence Cooper received a Bronze Star, today, for action in Vietnam in 1968. Senior Chief Cooper is an example of the best attributes of a United States Navy Sailor and Chief Petty Officer:
The Virginia Beach retiree, whom friends call “Coop,” shared that he recommended seven crew members for awards in the battle.
But Coop? He kept little but memories and scars from the sunburn and the shrapnel.
According to the Virgina-Pilot report posted on military.com, “Four Vietnam veterans have received Bronze Star or higher awards since October.” We need to hear more about these. They need to be better publicized by the Navy – not for the Navy to say “hey, we finally corrected this wrong” – but instead to say “hey, look at this shipmate, this American hero. Look what he did for his Sailors, for his country.” And I think it’s appropriate that we take a break from our busy lives and discussions and reflect on the contributions of these heroes to whom we owe much.
There are a lot of heroes mentioned in this article – Navy Cross and Silver Star recipients Jim Walker and Barry Waluda, respectively, among them. Everyone who rose to the challenge, who decided to do everything they could to right this wrong, to get Senior Chief Cooper his richly-deserved recognition, is a credit to themselves and reflects some of what it means to be a shipmate, a brother in arms.
To be respected by your shipmates and brothers is one of the greatest honors. To have these works written about you by a Navy Cross recipient is priceless:
Walker wrote Cooper’s grandson, Derek, a one-page note a few years ago about the battle: “The next time you look at your Grandfather know that he has faced extreme danger in combat, and because of his skill, courage and decisions, the enemy did not overcome. His ship and crew were saved. Derek, be well aware of the absolute fact that your Grandfather is a hero.”
Bravo Zulu Senior Chief…and well done to those who made sure he received the Bronze Star he so definitely earned.