Retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Carl Cooper of Vestavia Hills joined the centenarian club on March 18, celebrating his 100th birthday with a virtual celebration with staff at the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Health Care System.
“Our leadership team was honored to recognize Col. Cooper today for his many years of military service and to celebrate his 100th birthday with him via FaceTime,” said Stacy Vasquez, director of the Birmingham VA.
Cooper, who served in the World War II, Korean and Vietnam wars, has been receiving health services from the VA since 1980. He credits the Birmingham VA with keeping him healthy.
“The Lord has been good to me and continues to bless me every day,” he shared.
The 100-year old Clanton native, joined the Marines on April 1, 1942 and became a member of 6th Marine Division. By 1945, he was a 1st Lieutenant stationed in Okinawa at both Mount Yae-Take and Sugar Loaf.
For his service, he has been awarded two dozen medals including a Presidential Unit Citation with One Star, Marine Corps Medal with Four Stars, the United Nations Medal and the coveted Legion of Merit Medal.
“I was only doing what my country needed me to do and I came home,” said Col. Cooper.
Cooper received a bachelor’s degree from Samford University, then Howard College, as well as master’s from Vanderbilt University and a doctorate from Alabama universities.
When he wasn’t serving overseas, Cooper served his community as a school teacher. Following the Korean War, he served as the first principal of Mountain Brook Junior High School for eight years until he was called to serve in the Vietnam War.
After retiring from his 38-year service in the Marine Corps, he began working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency until he was 90 years old.
Col. Cooper remains an active member of his church, arriving every Thursday morning at 6 a.m. to stuff inserts into 3,000 Sunday bulletins.