Jimmie J. Cooper
U. S. Army
Korean War
Dates of Service: 08/19/1950 - 06/22/1952
Medical Aidman, 217 Medical Collecting Company

Jimmie was born in Laurel, Mississippi. His father, Johnny, died in a mill accident approximately six months before Jimmie was born. His mother, Bradis Craft Cooper, who worked in a textile mill, married N.T. Harrington, a sawmill worker. He, too, was injured in a work-related accident. "The Salvation Army helped us a lot because he couldn't work," Jimmie recalls. Around 1937 the family moved to Pachuta, Mississippi, to sharecrop on his step-grandfather's farm. The house burned, however, and the family "lost everything," he says. The family moved back to Laurel where Jimmie worked on the family farm, picking cotton and performing other chores. In World War II he recalls soldiers from Camp Shelby coming into town on leave. He also remembers P-52s on maneuvers from the air base in Laurel. He recalls hearing about Pearl Harbor, watching war news at the movie theater, and enjoying celebrations on VJ Day. In high school Jimmie supplemented the family income by working at Well's Furniture Company sanding and painting school desks, and in the mechanics department at a Martin Motor company, an Oldsmobile dealership. He also drove a school bus. Jimmie joined a local unit of the National Guard. In August of 1950 he was sent to Fort Benning where he took basic training. After three months his unit was sent to Seattle, Washington where they boarded a troop ship as the 217th Medical Collecting Company. He had little medical training. "They didn't have time," he says of the brief training. The unit was sent first to Kyoto, Japan where Jimmie worked in a hospital. In May of 1951 he was sent home on a thirty-day emergency leave when his mother passed away. In December of 1951 his unit shipped out from Sasebo, Japan to Pusan, South Korea. There Jimmie worked at the 121st Evacuation Hospital, where he often pulled guard duty "in that snow and cold." He recalls temperatures of "ten or twenty below zero." Guard duty was four hours on, eight hours off. Jimmie left Korea in June of 1952, this time flying back to the States. He was discharged at Fort Benning. On October 10, 1952 he married Flora Prince. (They would have four children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Jimmie went to work for United Gas in Monroe, Louisiana. He was transferred to Shreveport where he served most of his thirty-two years with the company. He retired in 1984.