Albert Cooper was born on May 31, 1933 in Coytesville, New Jersey. After graduation from high school in Vermont, he enlisted in the US Air Force in 1950. He received basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas followed by air police training at Samson Air Force Base in New York. In October 1952, he was deployed to the Korea by ship. Over the next year, he was assigned to investigate crimes, perform counterintelligence, and was responsible for the security of a radar station as a member of the Air Police Squadron until returning home in 1953. Through his experiences, he developed great admiration and respect for the Korean people.
Albert Cooper talks about a secret counterintelligence mission alongside two British spies to uncover South Koreans working against American interests. He mentions that while this mission itself bore little fruit, he developed a "love affair with the Korean people."
One Last Grenade
Albert Cooper talks about defending a radar station that had come under attack. Alone in a fox hole, he intermittently fired his rifle and threw hand grenades to keep the enemy at bay until he had exhausted his ammunition save one last grenade, which he kept and brought home as a memory of the battle.
Gift of Food and Spoon
Albert Cooper describes one of his most memorable experiences in Korea. While on patrol, he was invited into a Korean home for rice with beans. Having trouble with chop sticks, an elderly Korean woman gifted him an ancestral spoon. He talks about what that spoon means to him today and the bond between the US and South Korea.
Proud at Every Bend of the Road
Albert Cooper compares and contrasts the Korea that he left in 1953 with the Korea he revisited in 2009. Amazed at Korea's progress, he describes being "proud at every bend of the road." He says he is most proud that Koreans are happy and prosperous.
Al on Duty
19 year-old Al Cooper “smiles” for a picture while on duty in the winter of 1952 at an advanced U.S. Air Force radar control site near the 38th parallel.