This Memorial Day I have someone special to remember–the grandfather I never met. In fact, I had never known much of anything about Fred Harmon Cooper, the person after whom I am named. He was presumably divorced from my grandmother and lived in Seattle. One rumor was that he worked as a Union Boss on the waterfront, a tough job in any seaport town.
Upon having a recent DNA test, I was surprised to hear from distant relatives in Michigan. What was more surprising was what they told me. They were grandchildren of Fred’s brother and had a lot more information about him, including pictures.
Thus to my reason to proudly honor him this Memorial Day. Fred Harmon Cooper served in World War I as a private in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was in one of the most notable battles in which the Marines have ever been engaged–the month-long Battle of Belleau Wood in France. 474 Marines died in that battle that occurred 100 years ago this June.
Knowledge of Fred Harmon Cooper’s service in the U.S. Armed Forces marks four generations of Cooper’s who have served their country — Fred in the Marine Corps, my father in the Coast Guard, which was assigned to the Navy during WWII, myself on active duty as a Captain in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, and my son Andrew in the Air Force during the first Iraq War. Give them a salute and a big Hooah.