Jack Coop, native of Hoopeston, Illinois, joined the U.S. Army Air Forces at the age of 17 in 1942. Between January 1945 and April 1945, he flew 31 missions over Germany as a B-17 Ball Turret Gunner with the 418th Bomber Squadron. As a young Sergeant, he was awarded the first Oak Cluster to the Air Medal in recognition of "exceptionally meritorious achievement" during the bombings at Chennita, Frankfurt, Bremen, Berlin, Dresden, Brunswick, Hannover, Hamburg and other targets. He retired a Master Sergeant with 26 years of service in 1968.
We've had the pleasure of getting to know Jack after learning of his service and his friendship with his dear friend, WASP Jean Hixson. We've enjoyed his stories of his experiences in life from his youth to the war and his life since.
Jack's zest for life is amazing. Living in Kentucky at 93, he's still spry, energetic, independent and lives life on his terms. He has lots of friends of all ages and stays active in his community. Jack inspires us with his determination not to let anything get in the way of enjoying life. He's also taught us the importance of knowing our history and talking to our Greatest Generation family and friends, listening to their stories, asking questions, and learning from them.
And oh, there is so much to be learned.
Jack knows firsthand the courage and sacrifices of the WASP and he is adamant that this story be told. He is always there to comment on our stories and pictures and give us little history lessons along the way. Meeting people like Jack has been one of the many great parts of the journey in creating this miniseries.
Thank you, Jack, for your support and friendship. We are proud to call you our friend and so grateful for your service to our country. We truly appreciate the lessons you teach us.
And please...keep telling those great stories!