160th SOAR (Airborne) Soldier to receive Distinguished Service Cross !


running up that hill
Jan 3, 2007
in Wonderland, with my Alice

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (USASOC News Service, July 3, 2008) – A 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) Soldier will be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross during a ceremony at 2 p.m. July 11 at the Personnel Processing Center, Bldg. 7162, on Fort Campbell, Ky.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 David F. Cooper is being awarded the DSC for extraordinary heroism when he selflessly chose to fly as a single attack helicopter at low levels over an active firefight to draw enemy fire away from United States Special Operations ground forces on the scene. He acted with complete disregard for his own safety as he single handedly took aerial action against an armed and numerically superior enemy during a combat engagement in central Iraq in 2006.

The DSC is the Army’s second highest award for combat valor and is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States during military operations. This is the eleventh DSC to be awarded for actions in Iraq since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. To date, Cooper is the only aviator to receive the DSC non-posthumously for actions in support of the War on Terror.

Adm. Eric T. Olson, Commander, United States Special Operations Command, and Lt. Gen. Robert W. Wagner, Commander, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, will preside over the ceremony and present the awards.


For Cooper’s bio, click here.

Reporters interested in covering the ceremony must register with the 160th SOAR(A) PAO, Kimberly Laudano, by July 10 at 5 p.m. at (270) 798-6298 or e-mail kimberly.laudano@soar.army.mil. Please provide the number of news team members, video/still photographers, live trucks (including live hit times) and other special equipment you plan to bring to the ceremony. Special needs or interview requests should be submitted at this time as well. Also, provide after-hours contact information, including e-mail address, so we may keep you advised of any changes to the program schedule.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Cooper will be available for interviews following the ceremony for media who have properly coordinated with the 160th SOAR(A) PAO.

Plan to meet your public affairs escort at 1 p.m. July 11 in the Gate 7 Visitor Center parking lot. The media convoy will depart no later than 1:15 p.m.
Mr. Cooper is an awesome pilot. It goes without saying, so I won't say it.
That is awesome that guys like him are backing up our brothers on the ground. Well done Chief!

Chief Warrant Officer 5 David F. Cooper is being awarded the DSC for extraordinary heroism when he selflessly chose to fly as a single attack helicopter at low levels over an active firefight to draw enemy fire away from United States Special Operations ground forces on the scene. He acted with complete disregard for his own safety as he single handedly took aerial action against an armed and numerically superior enemy during a combat engagement in central Iraq in 2006.
You know, he could retire. He could have retired YEARS ago. He loves this shit too much. I don't think the majority of guys like him can successfully retire.

How can you feel tired around men like that?

More to the story:

Cooper was in his chopper with his partner when the chopper in front of them went down in the firefight.

Cooper's chopper ran out of ammunition but if he returned to base, the American troops on the ground could die as a result of the enemy fire. So in the middle of the firefight he landed his chopper, took the ammo from the other chopper and returned to the fight. He provided critical cover fire that saved the troops on the ground.

He was flying an H-6; it's what he flies.

The man is an awesome pilot, and is devastating with his AH-6.
http://news.soc.mil/releases/News Archive/2008/July/080714-04.html

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (USASOC News Service, July 14, 2008) – Chief Warrant Officer 5 David F. Cooper became the first Night Stalker in the unit’s history and the only living aviator to receive the Distinguished Service Cross in support of the War on Terror during a ceremony on July 11 at Fort Campbell, Ky.

“We stand here today in awe of Mr. Cooper,” said Adm. Eric T. Olson, commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, who presented the medal. “His actions read like adventure fiction, but they are real. Others live because of his selfless courage.”

Cooper was the AH-6 Little Bird flight lead for a mission against a foreign fighter facilitator in central Iraq on November 27, 2006. While moving between waiting locations on this mission, his wingman was shot down by enemy fire. The helicopter assault force immediately landed and, along with the special operations ground forces onboard, set up a small perimeter around the crashed aircraft. Although there were no serious injuries, the aircraft was not flyable.

After confirming that there was no immediate threat to the assault force position, the two Black Hawk helicopters of the formation, carrying the pilots from the downed aircraft, returned to their base to get a downed aircraft recovery team.

This left the force of about 20 special operations forces at the crash site with one mission capable AH-6 and two MH-6 helicopters. The crash site was flat desert ground, leaving the troops nowhere to find cover while defending the area.

About 40 minutes following the crash, enemy personnel suddenly appeared and began firing on their position. At this time, Cooper and his co-pilot were already starting up their engines to get an aerial view of the situation. Immediately upon taking off, Cooper’s aircraft became the target for enemy fire. Cooper flew his helicopter directly into the enemy fire, attacking the enemy positions and diverting fire away from the ground forces.

He landed his helicopter near the crash site twice during the engagement, where his fellow pilots downloaded ammunition and fuel from the crashed Little Bird and transferred it to his. These actions kept Cooper’s aircraft in the fight for as along as possible. After a third series of aerial gunnery attacks, the enemy personnel finally ceased firing and fled the area.

Lt. Gen. Robert W. Wagner, commander, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, described Cooper’s actions that day as seemingly impossible.

“Imagine what would have happened had (Cooper) not defied all odds and heroically flown into a heavily armed gauntlet attracting fire to himself in order to divert deadly enemy fire from his teammates and then most courageous and heroically, rearming and refueling on-site to continue the fight,” he said. “Unbelievable courage, brilliant presence of mind, selfless saving acts under the most demanding combat conditions, (he is) a true hero in every sense of the word.”

Olson described Cooper’s actions as representative of all Night Stalkers, a testament to the unit’s motto ‘Night Stalkers Don’t Quit.’

“Operating most often as members of an aircraft joint team, you are the ideal teammates,” he said. “Many of your casualties have been suffered after making the conscious and deliberate decision to fly into a hot landing zone to save troops on the ground who have no other hope. To this unit the loyalty of the ground and maritime forces…is deep and forever.”

During closing remarks, Cooper credited many people for doing their job and making his actions on the battlefield possible. He thanked the Soldiers, civilians and contractors of the 160th who to got him onto the battlefield at the right place, at the right time, with the right amount of ammo and fuel. He also thanked his family and friends for their unwavering support of his career.

Cooper did not forget those Night Stalkers who were on the battlefield with him, as he thanked them for working together that day. He described the Little Bird pilots on the ground and his co-pilot as the real heroes.

“As those (pilots) were taking out ammunition and loading my helicopter with ammunition, loading my helicopter with fuel, they were in absolute plain sight of a determined enemy who was hell-bent to kill them and yet they did not quit,” Cooper stated. “And it is to them that I am lucky enough to be standing here today, that (all of us from that day) are.

(My co-pilot) did a phenomenal job that day pointing out targets, working the radio and arming and de-arming me,” he continued. “Again, without him, none of this would be possible.”

Cooper's co-pilot was previously presented the Silver Star and the four MH-6 pilots with Bronze Star Medals for Valor for their actions that day.

In the true quiet professional manner that the Night Stalkers live by, Cooper said he was humbled by receiving this award.

“I accept it on behalf of all Night Stalkers, past, present and future,” he said.

More than 500 people were in attendance during the ceremony, including about 100 of Cooper’s family members from the Cincinnati, Ohio, area. His younger sister Karen Bishop was among them.

Before today, she said the family knew a few details beyond what Cooper had called “a really tough day” after the incident occurred. The story that Cooper had relayed involved not just his actions, but those of his fellow Night Stalkers and special operations forces who worked together under intense combat circumstances.

“It is a really special day for our family,” she said. “Growing up, Dave was always a leader. He’s been a leader in our family and obviously he’s a leader with his comrades and his troops. And we’re just proud of him.”


Chief Warrant Officer 5 David F. Cooper is presented the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) from Admiral Eric T. Olson, commander of United States Special Operations Command, during a ceremony at Fort Campbell, Ky., on July 11, 2008. The DSC is the Army’s second highest award for combat valor and is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States during military operations. Cooper is a 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment AH-6 Little helicopter pilot. ((160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment Photo)

Chief Warrant Officer 5 David F. Cooper makes remarks after being presented the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) during a ceremony at Fort Campbell, Ky., on July 11, 2008. The DSC is the Army’s second highest award for combat valor and is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States during military operations. Cooper is a 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment AH-6 Little helicopter pilot. (160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment Photo)
Pilot earns Distinguished Service Cross after fighting off surprise attack
By Sean D. Naylor, Army Times, July 21, 2008, P24

In the clear skies north of Baghdad, a single word — “Mayday!” — turned a special operations mission on its head, diverting some of America’s most elite forces from their mission to kill or capture a known terrorist to a desperate fight for their lives, pinned down, outnumbered and outgunned.
In the brutal hours that followed that Mayday transmission on Nov. 27, 2006, Chief Warrant Officer 5 David Cooper of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment — the “Night Stalkers” — would earn a Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic actions to relieve his beleaguered colleagues, while an Air Force F-16 pilot would lose his life.
Cooper received his award — the highest ever for a Night Stalker — from Adm. Eric Olson, head of U.S. Special Operations Command, July 11 at the 160th’s home post of Fort Campbell, Ky.
In the early afternoon of Nov. 27, 2006, Cooper was the pilot in command of an AH-6 Little Bird attack helicopter, flying lead pilot in a flight of six helicopters: two AH-6s, two MH-6 troop-carrying Little Birds and two MH-60 Black Hawks, also with special ops ground troops aboard. Their mission was to kill or capture a “foreign fighter facilitator,” according to a summary of the action released by the 160th.
The weather was perfect — “Clear, blue and 22,” in aviator-speak. But as the six helicopters flew between “logger” sites about 50 kilometers northwest of Baghdad, Cooper’s wingman suddenly transmitted “Mayday!”
An insurgent had hit the aircraft with a rocket-propelled grenade, but no one had realized that at first because it didn’t explode. “I looked out the window there and saw that he didn’t have a tail rotor, and if you know anything about helicopters, that’s an important piece,” Cooper said in a July 10 interview.
Cooper’s wingman had to land the aircraft quickly, while simultaneously keeping its speed up so that the wind would keep the helicopter straight. Fortunately, the landscape below was mostly flat, open desert.
“He did an excellent job of doing a running landing in the desert, where he hit the desert floor at about 60 miles per hour,” Cooper said. “The pilots had only superficial injuries, but certainly that event changed the center of gravity of the mission that day.”
The four troop-carrying helicopters landed beside the crippled helicopter immediately. The special operators jumped off, checked on the pilots of the crashed aircraft and then set up a perimeter.
The Black Hawks quickly evacuated the pilots of the stricken aircraft, leaving 18 to 20 ground troops, plus the two MH-6s and their four pilots. Cooper declined to identify which unit the troops came from, beyond calling them “friendly special operations forces,” but the 160th forms part of the Joint Special Operations Command task force in Iraq, where it typically flies special operators from Delta Force, Naval Special Warfare Development Group and the 75th Ranger Regiment.
Cooper and his co-pilot stayed airborne for several minutes to make sure the position was safe, then, seeing no enemy forces, he landed.
After about 40 minutes, several trucks with anti-aircraft machine guns approached their location. Unsure whether these belonged to Iraqi police, a local militia or enemy fighters, the senior ground force non-commissioned officer asked Cooper to get airborne and check them out. The question was answered when the gun trucks opened fire on the small special ops force.
Cooper took off and quickly realized the full extent of the threat: there were six to eight gun trucks mounted with double-barreled ZPU-2 14.5mm anti-aircraft machine guns about 1,400 to 1,600 meters away. Each gun truck was crewed by four or five men, “so there were probably about 40 fighters out there,” he said.
Meanwhile, another two trucks had appeared and disgorged at least 20 enemy fighters. They occupied a house about 800 meters from the grounded helicopter and took the U.S. force under fire with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, RPK machine guns and AK-series assault rifles.
The U.S. troops were armed with infantry weapons that could reach the enemy fighters in the house, but not those in the gun trucks.
To make matters worse, the desert offered no cover to escape the gun trucks’ murderous fire. “It was flat like a tabletop, so we really had no defilade to get to,” Cooper said. “The ground forces were pinned down immediately … It was kind of a one-sided deal.”
As soon as Cooper was aloft, the enemy fighters directed all their fire to his aircraft. “That’s OK — until you get hit — because if they’re shooting at me, they’re not shooting at the ground forces,” he said.
Cooper and his co-pilot, a chief warrant officer 4 whom he declined to name because he’s still flying combat missions, were the only friendly force capable of attacking the gun trucks, which they did, using their two six-barreled 7.62mm miniguns that fire about 3,000 rounds per minute and a pair of 2.75-inch rocket pods loaded with a mixture of flechette, high explosive and smoke rounds. “We tried to put as much fire as we could on the gun trucks and on the fighters at the house,” Cooper said.
Air Force F-16s were on station to provide close air support, but from their high altitude they were unable to discern the friendly and enemy forces, Cooper said. “We realized quickly that we were the only fire support that we were going to get that day,” he added.
Flying anywhere from 5 to 50 feet off the ground, Cooper could feel his helicopter shuddering and hear the metal-on-metal sounds as enemy rounds struck the aircraft as it flew in again and again, firing at the insurgent positions.
He could also hear the enemy’s near misses. “When that round goes past the cockpit it sounds like the snap of someone’s fingers — a pop,” he said. “That day, it sounded more like popcorn.”
But as the minutes ticked by, Cooper and his wingman could tell they were gaining an edge. “The rate of [enemy] fire had diminished, so we knew we had hit either the guns or the crews of probably at least two of those trucks,” he said.
Even as he tried to kill them, Cooper was impressed with his enemies’ resilience. “They were not fleeing, they were hanging right in there,” he said. “They were disciplined fighters.”
After 12 to 15 minutes, Cooper was running low on ammunition, and landed back beside the crashed aircraft. He and his co-pilot stared at each other wide-eyed.
“Neither of us really expected to get out of this fight alive,” Cooper said.
He paid tribute to the four MH-6 pilots on the ground, who all later received Bronze Stars with “V” devices. “Those guys were off-loading unstable rockets off of the downed aircraft and loading them into my aircraft when I landed,” he said. “That’s not a recommended procedure in the book, [and] they were doing that all the time under fire and in plain view of the enemy.”
After no more than five minutes, Cooper and his copilot took off again. “We weren’t ordered to go back up,” he said. “I’m a gun pilot, and my duty is to support the ground forces.”
After another 15 minutes of fighting against a hail of insurgent fire, Cooper was running out of fuel and ammo and had to put down again. “I was going through ammunition at a fairly rapid clip,” he said.
The MH-6 pilots used a Leatherman tool to remove the crashed Little Bird’s auxiliary fuel tank and use it to refuel Cooper’s aircraft.
Then Cooper took off yet again, this time spending half an hour in the air. He got as close as 800 meters from the gun trucks and 200 from the house. “I was flying as erratically as I could to throw off the aim of the gunners,” he said.
Cooper and his wingman were slowly turning the tide of the battle. Most of the insurgents who had occupied the house a couple of hours before were now dead. Half of the gun trucks were out of action, with many insurgents killed and wounded in and around them.
No longer able to cope with the withering fire that the AH-6 was delivering, the surviving insurgents began to retreat. Then tragedy struck. Maj. Troy Gilbert, an F-16 pilot providing close-air support for the mission, was finally able to identify the moving enemy vehicles and was placing effective fire on them when his aircraft crashed about four or five miles away from the downed helicopter. He was killed. Gilbert was posthumously awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross with “V” device.
The actions of Cooper, 48, and his wingman were later credited with preventing further loss of friendly forces.
Cooper was “ordered off the battlefield” after he landed for the fourth time. “We were out of gas and out of bullets and they needed to get a new team of AH[-6]s in there,” he said.
The new team arrived, but the battle was over. The special operators remained on the ground until nightfall, when a downed aircraft recovery team flew in to extract the crashed helicopter and the troops.
“By the time I got that aircraft back to base I was pretty well spent,” Cooper said.
According to a summary of Cooper’s actions released by the 160th, “his aggressive actions, complete disregard for his personal safety and extreme courage under fire resulted in him single-handedly repelling the enemy attack … If not for CW5 Cooper’s actions, the ground force would have become decisively engaged and would certainly have taken heavy casualties.”
But Cooper is humble when discussing his role.
“I just happened to be the guy there that day,” he said. “Any one of the Night Stalkers that’s in this formation would have done the same thing I did.”

CW5 David Cooper details the actions that led to his awarding of the Distinguished Service Cross at the U.S. Army's "Warriors Corner" at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Convention. The Regimental Chief Warrant Officer of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) gave his presentation to a packed house of convention attendees. (Photo by Walter Sokalski, USASOC News Service)