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Damon W. Cooper
Damon W Cooper.jpg
Damon Warren "Hutch" Cooper
Nickname(s) "Hutch"
Born (1919-04-27)April 27, 1919
Elizabethtown, Kentucky
Died November 19, 1985(1985-11-19) (aged 66)
Springfield, Kentucky
Place of burial Saint James Cemetary
Springfield, Kentucky
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the United States Department of the Navy.svg United States Navy
Years of service 1941 - 1976 (35 years)
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Vice Admiral
Commands held USS Pine Island (AV-12)
USS Ticonderoga (CV-14)
Task Force 71
Task Force 74
Task Force 77
Director of Naval Reserve (CNR)[1]
Engagements World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star Medal
Air Medal
Navy Commendation Medal

Vice Admiral Damon Warren Cooper (April 27, 1919 – November 19, 1985) was a United States Naval Aviator and the first Chief of Naval Reserve. Cooper led the first attacks of the Vietnam War at the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Incident while Commanding Officer of the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). In 1973, serving as Commanding Officer of Task Force 77, the American aircraft carrier force in the Western Pacific,

Early life and career[edit]

Warren Cooper was born in Elizabethtown, KY, to Damon M. (1876-1968) and Ada McDermott (1885-?) Cooper,[2][3] on April 27, 1919. His father, a Knights of Columbus Kentucky State Deputy, was the first Grand Knight of the Council #1455 in Elizabethtown, KY, holding the position from 1909-1912, and again from 1935-1936. Schrode, George M. (1993). Knights of Columbus: Kentucky State Council. Turner Publishing Company. p. 128. ISBN 1563111144. Retrieved 31 July 2011. [4] Following a brief period at Western Kentucky State Teachers College at Bowling Green, Cooper began attending the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland in 1937.[5] Upon graduating from Annapolis in 1941, he was commissioned an ensign on February 7, 1941.

World War II and peacetime[edit]

Following graduation from the Naval Academy in 1941, he joined the USS Waters (DD-115) [6] and, in February 1943, was detached for flight training at at Pensacola, Florida. Cooper was designated anaval aviator in September 1943. His first World War II combat duty as a naval aviator was performed withTorpedo Squadron 24 which he commanded from August 1944 until August 1945. For outstanding services while in such command, including 60 combat missions in the Ryukyus area, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with two gold stars and the Air Medal with eight gold stars.

VADM Cooper was subsequently Commanding Officer, Training Squadron 24 (VT-24) and, in September 1945 he reported as navigator on board theUSS Kasaan Bay (CVE-69). From July 1946 to September 1947 was a student at the Naval Intelligence School, Washington, D.C. and served as intelligence officer on the staff of Commander Air Force, Pacific Fleet and in October 1949 assumed duty as Assistant Training Officer and Officer in Charge of Fighter Squadron ATU-4 at the Naval Auxiliary Air Station,Cabaniss Field, Corpus Christi, Texas.

Korean War and peacetime[edit]

His first duty in connection with combat operations in the Korean Conflict was performed as intelligence officer aboard theUSS Philippine Sea (CV-47) from August 1950 to January 1951. For meritorious service in that capacity he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V". After an assignment as intelligence officer on the staff of Commander Carrier Division 5, he reported in September 1951 as commanding officer of Fighter Squadron VF-821 aboard the USS Essex (CV-9). For meritorious service as commanding officer of this squadron he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V." He also was awarded gold stars to his Air Medal for completing 20 missions during the period of August 1, 1952, to January 2, 1953.

He served in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations as head of the Aviation Armament Section in the Air Warfare Division from March 1953 to February 1955. He next commanded Air Task Group 3, aboard the USS Shangri-La (CV-38), and in June 1956 reported as Operations Officer on staff of Commander Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. He joined the attack carrier USS Independence (CVA-62) as executive officer when she was commissioned January 10, 1959, and served in her until detached, in July 1959, for duty as commanding officer of Attack Squadron 44 (VF-44).[7][8]

He was a student at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, from July 1957 to June 1958 and at the National War College,Washington, D.C., from July 1960 to July 1961. Following completion of instruction at the National War College, he served in the Programs Branch, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C.

Vietnam War[edit]

In April 1963, he assumed command of the USS Pine Island (AV-12) and in July 1964 reported as commanding officer of the USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14). He was awarded the gold star in lieu of the second Navy Commendation Medal for meritorious service in the latter duty.

"Hutch was a diamond in the rough, the salt of the earth-...old human Hutch had wound up with the stars after all. It made you feel good about your navy."

James B. Stockdale, February 12, 1973[9]
Gulf of Tonkin Incident[edit]
Unofficial insignia of the "Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club" - aka U.S. 7th Fleet.

While commander of the "Tico," then CAPT, Cooper ordered the first strikes against North Vietnamese navy. On 2 August 1964, while on a DESOTO patrol in the Tonkin Gulf, the destroyer USS Maddox (DD-731) engaged 3 North Vietnamese Navy P-4 torpedo boats from the 135th Torpedo Squadron, commanded by Le Duy Khoai. After fighting a running gun and torpedo battle, in which theMaddox fired over 280 5-inch shells, and the torpedo boats expended their 6 torpedoes (all misses) and hundreds of rounds of 14.5mm machine gun fire; the combatants broke contact. As the torpedo boats turned for their North Vietnamese coastline, four F-8 Crusader jet fighter bombers from the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) arrived, and immediately attacked the retreating torpedo boats.

Detached from the Ticonderoga, he was ordered to the Bureau of Naval Personnel where he served as Assistant Director for Captain Detail (Aviation) from June 1965 to July 1966, then as Deputy Assistant Chief for Personnel Control. In December 1966 he assumed command of Patrol Force 7th Fleet/Taiwan Patrol Force/Fleet Air Wing 1. For exceptional service in such assignment he was awarded the Legion of Merit. He was advanced to flag rank as rear admiral, to date from July 1, 1967.

In August 1969, Rear Admiral Cooper reported as Assistant Chief of Naval Personnel for Personnel Control. For his exceptional meritorious service during his tenure in that capacity from August 1968 to August 1970, he was awarded a gold star in lieu of the second Legion of Merit.

"When the going is rough, you stand at the head of the line."

  — VADM D. W. Cooper (1972).[10]

He assumed command of Carrier Division 9 in August 1970 and in March 1971 reported as Commander Attack Carrier Striking Force, 7th Fleet/Commander Carrier Division 5. He was advanced to vice admiral, to date from August 16, 1972. For this duty he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

On April 12, 1973, Vice Admiral Cooper assumed the duty as Chief of Naval Reserve with headquarters in New Orleans, Louisiana, (position created as Director of Naval Reserve) on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations.

Personal information[edit]

A native of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Cooper was married to the former Anne Porter Leverich of Olympia, Washington, and had three daughters, Jeanne Fleetwood Richey (Summerville, Florida), the late Anne Michele Davidson (Bend, Oregon), and Mary Patricia Prebilsky (Puyallup, Washington), and a son, John Rockwell Cooper (Mukilteo, Washington). Among their four kids, there are 16 grandchildren. [11] Awarded the Naval Order of the United States insignia #05123, Commandery SWS.[12] VADM Cooper died on 19 November 1985 of Mesothelioma.[13]


Carter Ham

Awards and Decorations[edit]

Naval Aviator Badge.jpg United States Naval Aviator Badge
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Gold star
Legion of Merit with 1 award star
Gold star
Gold star
Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 award stars
Bronze Star Medal with V device
Silver star
Silver star
Air Medal with 10 award stars
Gold star
Navy Commendation Medal with award star and V device
Korean Service Medal
United Nations Korea Medal
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge

1973 Tailhook Association Tailhooker of the Year [26]

Dates of rank[edit]

Navyacademylogo.jpg United States Naval Academy Midshipman - Class of 1941

Ensign Lieutenant Junior Grade Lieutenant Lieutenant Commander Commander
O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5
US Navy O1 insignia.svg US Navy O2 insignia.svg US Navy O3 insignia.svg US Navy O4 insignia.svg US Navy O5 insignia.svg
7 February 1941 Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
Captain Rear Admiral (lower half) Rear Admiral (upper half) Vice Admiral
O-6 O-7 O-8 O-9
US Navy O6 insignia.svg US Navy O7 insignia.svg US Navy O8 insignia.svg US Navy O9 insignia.svg
Unknown Unknown 1 July 1967 [27] 16 August 1972

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Chief of Naval Reserve
  2. ^ Damon M. Cooper
  3. ^ Ada M. Cooper
  4. ^ Damon M. Cooper, Grand Knight
  5. ^ Archive Text
  6. ^ ENS Cooper, Damon W
  7. ^ CDR Cooper takes command of VF-44
  8. ^ CAPT Damon W. Cooper, CO, VF-44
  9. ^ In love and war: the story of a family's ordeal and sacrafice during the Vietnam years & Stockdale 1984, p. 434
  10. ^ USS Hancock CV-19 (August 1972). "1972 Press Release". Retrieved 25 July 2011. }
  11. ^ Damon W. Cooper Biography
  12. ^ Naval Order of the United States (Limited ed.). New Orleans, Louisiana: Turner Publishing Company. p. 65. ISBN 1563118734. Retrieved 23 September 2015.  More than one of |pages= and |page= specified (help)
  13. ^ The Golden Eagles, Last Take Off
  14. ^ USS Independence history
  15. ^ VA-44 History
  16. ^ VA-44 Hornets
  17. ^ Rice University Graduation Exercises & Joint Army-Navy Commissioning Ceremony, 1969
  18. ^ USS Enterprise History
  19. ^ RADM Damon Cooper
  20. ^ 77 Command History
  21. ^ Commander, Task Force 77
  22. ^ Carrier Strike Force 7th Fleet
  23. ^ CNR
  24. ^ Chief of Naval Reserve
  25. ^ Department of Defense Appropriation Authorization Act of 1975, 03 June 1974
  26. ^ US Navy Tailhook of the Year
  27. ^ Rear Admiral
  28. ^ Navy directory: officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps
  29. ^ 91st Congress 1st Session
  30. ^ ArmedForces journal international, Volume 108, Issues 1-12
  31. ^ NavalReservist
  32. ^ InLove And War
  33. ^ U.S.Marines in Vietnam: The war that would not end, 1971-1973
  34. ^ Battlefor Leyte Gulf
  35. ^ Wings and warriors: My life as a Naval Aviator
  36. ^ TheTailhook Association
  37. ^ ToHanoi and Back
  38. ^ NavalOrder of the United States
  39. ^ USNavy A-7 Corsair II Units of the Vietnam War
  40. ^ Atthe Abyss: An Insider's History of the Cold War
  41. ^ Fightingto Leave: The Final Years of America's War in Vietnam, 1972-1973

External links[edit]

Task Force 77
Office of Naval Reserve: Appointment of Chief
Military offices
Preceded by
Chief of the United States Naval Reserve
Succeeded by
VADM Pierre N. Charbonnet, Jr.