Coronado’s “Avenue Of The Heroes” ... Captain Lloyd F. Cooper, USN Retired - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado City News

Coronado’s “Avenue Of The Heroes” ... Captain Lloyd F. Cooper, USN Retired

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Posted: Monday, January 6, 2020 2:46 pm | Updated: 3:35 pm, Mon Jan 6, 2020.

After graduating high school, Lloyd Cooper enlisted in the naval aviation cadet program and became a naval aviator. His first assignment was to VC-71 off the USS Manila Bay, operating in the Okinawa area. Later VC-71 was stationed with a Task Group operating in Alaskan waters preparing to cover the invasion of Japan. The war ended, however, and the invasion became unnecessary. Cooper then applied for a transfer to the regular Navy.

Following five terms of college, hospitalization for major back surgery, and a refresher course in flight training, Cooper was assigned to VC-11 which operated night trained detachments. His first duty was aboard the USS Philippine Sea fighting the Korean War. The AD squadron pilots were scheduled to fly coverage for the Inchon Invasion, but since they were not night qualified, they asked VC-11 pilots to fly their planes.

Navy Line School and NAS Jacksonville staff was next. Then Cooper was assigned to VF-62 flying the new FJ-3 Fury fighter. He deployed aboard the USS Franklin operating with the Sixth Fleet. Due to unrest in the Mideast and concern that war was imminent, VF-62 was assigned to maintain aircraft airborne without knowledge of what type of aircraft or tail markings they were seeking. It was then that the Sixth Fleet Commander sent his famous message to Washington asking “Who’s the enemy?”

Next was duty on a Joint Staff commanded by an Air Force General, followed by the Naval War College Command and Staff course. After graduation, Cooper was selected for Commander, and was assigned as commanding officer of VA-55 which deployed aboard the USS Ticonderoga to operate in the Western Pacific. The ship’s mission was to photograph the coastline of Vietnam.

Upon his return home, Cooper transferred to the USS Kitty Hawk, as the second Air Boss. The ship was sent to Hawaii to night qualify the entire Air Group, and then deployed to WESTPAC. While operating off the coast of Hokaido, Japan’s northern most island, they were constantly shadowed by Russia’s bomber, code named the “Badger.” This was during the peak of the Cold War and lasted for several weeks. The Air Group was required to maintain two aircraft, an F-4 fighter and an F-8 photo plane, in readiness at all times. When a “Badger” was detected miles out, these planes were launched to intercept the plane at 150 miles and escort him well past the Kitty Hawk. Obviously, “PRIFLY” had to be manned at all times so Cooper and his assistant alternated sleeping in PRIFLY 24/7.

This exercise was later designated “The Kitty Hawk Express.” For her first deployment, Kitty Hawk and the Air Department received the coveted “E.”

Upon arrival home, Cooper was transferred to ComNavAirPac Staff. He was promoted to Captain, and then received orders to NAS Seattle as the Commanding Officer of a Navy Reserve Air Station. While he was there, the air station received the two highest trophies awarded in annual competition to one of 18 commands.

From NAS Seattle, Cooper was assigned to his second Joint Staff, CINC Alaska, commanded by the Air Force. After Alaska, Cooper went to Dallas, to command the Naval 7th Recruiting District which included Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Louisiana. This was the beginning of the all-volunteer military. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for this assignment.

Following Dallas, Cooper returned to Seattle as Chief of Staff for the 13th Naval District. He had now come full circle since Seattle is where he joined VC-71 to start his Naval career. Upon completion of this duty, and 30 years of honorable service in the US Navy, Cooper retired to civilian life. He received a second Legion of Merit medal.

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