http://www.soc.mil/UNS/Releases/2012/July/120702-01.html FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, July 2, 2012) - The Army bid farewell to one of the most decorated Aviators in Army history Friday at Chief Warrant Officer 5 David Cooper's retirement ceremony. Cooper, the first Army Aviator to receive the Distinguished Service Cross since the Vietnam War, and the only one to receive it non-posthumously, retired after 27 years of service. Receiving the DSC changed Cooper's life in multiple ways, both personally and professionally. As a valorous award recipient he became a sought after public speaker and traveled around the country sharing his experiences with the public. Cooper relished his role at speaking engagements as a chance to tell America the Army story, and talk about heroes, including the other Aviators and Soldiers on the ground involved in the mission where he earned the DSC. It was also a chance to show that "the mission of the Army Warrant Officer continues to evolve. Once merely the technical expert, today's U.S. Army Warrant Officers are leaders." This was actually the third time that Cooper submitted his paperwork to retire from the Army. His first attempt to retire was in October 2006, a month before his valorous actions in Iraq. Shortly after, then Col. Kevin Mangum talked him into becoming the Regimental Warrant Officer at the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). "His actions speak to what he is and how he does things, but they had no impact on my decision. Dave was the right guy for the job. His perspective, maturity and approach to business make him an invaluable part of any organization." Cooper's second attempt at retirement came in November 2009 after his senior position at the 160th was complete. Once again, then Brig. Gen. Mangum talked him out of it. Mangum was building his staff at the new Army Special Operations Aviation Command, and thought Cooper would be a great asset as the unit's first Command Chief Warrant Officer. Cooper saw this as a tremendous opportunity, so with the support of his wife and family, again withdrew his retirement packet, and became one of only two warrant officers in the Army to work directly for a General Officer. Cooper saw serving as the first CCWO for a new command helped "empower Army leadership and rely more on senior warrant officers as part of the command team." Highlights of Cooper's career include being part of 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry in 1988, the first AH-64 Apache unit in Europe. Another highlight was in 1991, when Cooper was the flight lead of the AH-64 section that escorted Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf to peace talks at the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm, where Cooper was able to stand in the tents and witness history. His distinguished career also led to numerous encounters with U.S. Presidents, including flying escort for President George H. W. Bush in Iraq, and bringing his wife to dinner with the Obamas at the White House. Now, after 27 years of service, it is finally time for Cooper to bid farewell to active duty Army life and move on to the next phase. "The Army has changed a lot in the last 27 years. We've had several uniform changes, there is new equipment, new tactics. Something that hasn't changed is that during this era of persistent conflict, quality young men and women continue to sign up for our Army," Cooper stated at his retirement ceremony. Cooper also acknowledged that "the life of a professional Soldier is a delicate balancing act between duty and family." So first, he plans to take some much needed time off and spend quality time with his family.