War shapes couple’s life

Published 12:07 pm Sunday, December 7, 2008

What does the date Dec. 7, 1941 mean to you?

I’ve been surprised that many younger adults and teens have no idea of the importance of that date. When one watches the films involving that Sunday morning destruction of Pearl Harbor, the scenes are paralyzing.

There are not a lot of World War II veterans still with us, but I was lucky this week to have a chat with Arnold Cooper.

When Pearl Harbor was bombed and war declared, Arnold was already in the Army stationed in Chicago. He had met (on a blind date — Labor Day 1941) the woman of his dreams, so they married July 26, 1942. Lucy was in nurses training and married “old brown eyes” against her father’s wishes, knowing that sooner or later Arnold would be shipped out.

In 1943, he went to Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., then to Ft. Ord, Calif. and then to New Caledonia in the Pacific. From there the infantry boarded a British tub for Guadalcanal for rush-up training. In November 1943, Corporal Cooper arrived at Bougainville in the Solomon Islands. On the march up Hill 700 the fighting was intense — horrendous would be the more fitting word. Bodies everywhere, Arnold said. He said a Japanese fired and killed the soldier marching right next to him.

Then and there Arnold said he put his life in God’s hands and that has continued to be his way. He was in the area 13 months and doesn’t care to elaborate on that time.

Christmas 1944 he was sent to the Phillipines-Linguine Gulf area. By October 1945, his group had marched into Manila, taken over Manila and moved on North to Luzon Island, where they more or less waited for ships to take them home.

Thankful to come home at 127 pounds, still weakened by dysentery and malaria, Arnold began job hunting. Lucy had finished her nursing school and was employed. From microanalysis at Libby, McNeil and Libby, he went to Gibson Studios and then Eastman Kodak (13 years quality control).

In 2002, after 17 years with Sears near Mountain Home, Ark. Arnold had carotid surgery. Their children wanted their parents closer to someone who could check on them. One of their daughters lived in the Birmingham area, so, in May 2993 Shelby County got Mr. Arnold and Ms. Lucy.

They live their faith daily and are young at heart. Married 66 and a half years, I asked what their secret was. Lucy says he has always pampered her — he just shrugged. Ladies, I am jealous!