Chase Cooper Biosketch
I am Corporal Chase Michael Cooper, assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team 4-25 FA Spartan out of Fort Drum, New York. I experienced a tragic event late in the evening of June 5, 2011 that forever changed my life—for the best.
I was born in Boise, Idaho, but I was raised in Seattle, Washington. I had a pretty good childhood growing up, but I went through some rough teenage years. Constantly getting in trouble and hanging out with the wrong crowd was leading me down a bad path. By the time I reached my senior year in high school, I realized that something had to change. I knew that the way I was going would not end well. So I graduated in June 2000 and in September of that same year, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
I was stationed on the U.S.S. John C. Stennis in San Diego. My ship and unit were among the first to deploy after our country was attacked on September 11, 2001. I left the Navy in 2003 and moved back to Boise, Idaho, but I missed the military and knew it was a career that I hoped to return to one day.
While back in Idaho, I met my wife Alicia in early 2004. I was married in August of 2005, and we now have two little girls, Gracie, age 7, and Lucie, age 3.
When I mentioned that things changed in my senior year of high school, I meant it. I did some serious thinking. I knew that I needed more structure and discipline in my life, and I also wanted to make my father proud. At the time, I felt like I was a failure to him.
This decision would prove to be right. My dad couldn’t have been more proud of me when he heard I enlisted. After I got back from my first U.S. Navy deployment, I ended up getting hurt and had no choice but to accept a medical separated.
During the seven years that followed, my life changed dramatically for the best, and I was truly blessed. I met Alicia, the woman of my dreams, got married, and had two beautiful daughters.
Those seven years were also the toughest of my life. With a family to support, no college under my belt, and only a high school diploma, getting a good job with benefits was hard to find. Alicia and I had our ups and downs, but, in retrospect, everything we went through made us the strong couple that we are today. The Lord is faithful.
Another cross came in January of 2010, when I lost my grandfather, who was a father to me, and two months later, I lost my job. Something had to give, so I decided to go back to what I was good at, military life.
I finally fulfilled my wish to rejoin the military in October of 2010, but this time I chose the U.S. Army and I am still on Active Duty today. Leaving my family behind, I took off for military training and was sent to Afghanistan the following March 2011.
Being there was surreal. I kept thinking to myself “What the hell am I doing here?” As time went on, things became easier and easier, but I was careful not to get too comfortable, because doing so can be dangerous. For me, this would never be the case. I remained alert and ready for anything the enemy could spring upon my team.
I was only in country for three months before tragedy struck. During the night of June 5, 2011, I was part of a mission that ended up arresting a few Taliban that had been shooting at us earlier. One of them was covered in blood, so I knew that we had successfully killed some of our enemies.
As we were on our way to spend the night in an open wheat field, to sit on a UXO (un-exploded ordinance) that we had discovered, that’s when it happened. As I was walking towards my lieutenant and looking for improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which are booby traps that the enemy plants around us, I stepped on a pressure plate. It was connected to 40 pounds of homemade explosives buried six feet in front of me and located directly under the ground where my lieutenant was standing. The blast left him with both legs gone, and the shrapnel left me with massive lacerations to the right side of my head, neck, and right arm. The wounds to my neck just missed my carotid artery.
But we both lived! I give all praise and glory to Jesus Christ that day for sparing both of our lives and for bringing us home to our families. Although, the injuries caused by the explosion and the road to rehabilitation that followed has been tough, it has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me because it helped to shape me into the man I am today.