Story by Sgt. Sarah Enos
5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - A U.S. Army soldier spends his or her day training and working in one of the world’s strongest fighting forces with the goal of upholding the Constitution and protecting America’s freedoms.
Sgt. 1st Class Douglas Cooper, a recruiter assigned to the Lynnwood Army Career Center, Seattle Recruiting Battalion, Wash., has shown his pride for the Army for the last 37 years. Now he continues the tradition by recruiting both of his sons into the service, one as an enlisted infantryman and the other as an aspiring intelligence officer.
“How proud can a dad be when both his sons are in the Army?” said Cooper, the 56-year-old Bryn Mawr, Pa., native. “I put my parent hat on and asked a lot of questions. I’m proud of them for thinking this through.”
Capt. David L. Eyre, the commander for Everett Recruiting Company, said Cooper is unique in regards to his level of motivation and enthusiasm, leading him to put more people in the Army than anyone else in his company.
“He is my best and oldest recruiter in this company,” Eyre said. “After talking with both his sons, I can assume their father’s love for the Army has made a big impact on them and the choices they make.”
Cooper, a member of the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution, is continuing his family history of military service that dates back to 1776.
After graduating in 1976 from Haverford High School in Havertown, Pa., Cooper sat down with a recruiter and selected his military occupation specialty to be a telephone lineman and installer.
“Communications seemed to be the up and coming career in the '70s,” Cooper said.
Cooper completed basic training at Fort Gordon, Ga., graduated at the top of his class during advanced individual training at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and was quickly promoted from E-1 to E-3.
After four years of service as a soldier, Cooper completed his active duty contract in 1980 and used the training he gained from the Army to work in the cable television industry for AT&T, which later became Comcast.
The next seven years for Cooper flew by quickly as he was in a growth industry when HBO and MTV were brand new.
Cooper said when he got married and turned 30, he realized he wanted to prepare himself to best support his family and his future goals. He enlisted in the Army Reserve as a specialist and continued to advance in both his military and civilian careers.
“I have said ‘I do’ three times in my life, once to enter the Army, second to marry my wife, Diane, and third to enter the Reserve,” Cooper said. “The U.S. Army Reserve was going to be a part of my future to support my goals ahead, whatever they were to be.”
Cooper continued to graduate with honors in all of his Noncommissioned Officer Education System courses, completed a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in adult learning and training.
Cooper was then promoted to sergeant and expanded his job skills by cross-training as a transportation movement coordinator and supply specialist.
“The Reserve is very different from the regular Army in that there are frequent opportunities to cross-train,” Cooper said.
Comcast also had ideas to change Cooper’s path and offered to relocate he and his family from Philadelphia to Seattle if he accepted a promotion to manage the city’s cable networks.
Moving did not hinder Cooper’s military career. He advanced through the NCO ranks before landing a seat at the Sergeant Major Academy.
As Cooper approached 29 years working for Comcast and retirement from the military, he learned about the Army’s Active Guard Reserve program. He applied for federal active duty status providing full-time support to National Guard and Reserve organizations for the purpose of recruiting, knowing he would have to take a pay cut from E-8 to E-7.
“Cooper turned down his seat at the Sergeant Major Academy as a reservist to become a recruiter for the AGR,” Eyre said. “But even as an AGR recruiter, he continues to strive for promotion.”
Eyre went on to say, “Cooper positively affects those around him, knows his job exceptionally well and knows how to talk to kids and their parents about the Army.”
Referring to himself, his sons and young adults, Cooper said the Army is a great stepping stone and gives soldiers a sense of direction and pride.
After Cooper retires from the Army in 2019, he and his wife plan to move near family in Virginia and will continue his Army legacy as a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps instructor.
As Cooper prepares to hang up his hat, both his sons’ careers begin to take off. His youngest son, Jay Cooper, has already been promoted from private to private first class and is currently assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.