|Jimmy, Lois, Red & Tammy Cooper|
Camp Swift was an infantry training camp that held 90,000 soldiers at its peak, along with 4,000 German prisoners of war from the battles in North Africa. Kerrville Bus Co. was running ten or more runs a day between the bus station in Austin to Camp Swift, and needed more drivers. Halley applied for the job and passed the driving test, when a problem arose. He was not yet 21 years old, which was the age required for a chauffeur's license to drive a bus. Like many people of that era, he didn't have a birth certificate, so the manager at the bus company fudged his age by two years to make him old enough.
His wife was delighted, because he was making much more money than before, and more than that, he would have a war-time protected occupation. Bus drivers were needed to transport service men around the nation for training.
Lois had reasons to not want him to join the service. Her brother was in the 36th Division, on active duty when the war broke out. She was expecting another child and felt having her brother serving was sacrifice enough for her family.
Red had tried to join the marines when he was 15. A friendly doctor in Sabine County had verified his age as 17. His mother had died when he was four, and his father had left him in East Texas on his own. He had been working as much as he could, but not eating regularly. After a few days of training with the marines, he passed out and their doctor disqualified him from the program for malnutrition. He hitchhiked to Austin with a man who had a load of oranges, and he ate his fill.
A second child, Tammy, was born in January, 1943. With two children and a protected job, he was safe from being drafted. In September of 1943, his brother-in-law, James Wilbur Bird, was captured after landing at Salerno, Italy, during the first invasion of United States forces in Europe. He didn't feel that he could remain on the sidelines while his brother-in-law was not only a veteran of combat, but now a POW. Halley decided to go against his wife's wishes and go to war. He knew someone working at the draft board, and arranged to be drafted into the Navy.
|Home on leave with Tammy and Jimmy|
He began his service on May 31, 1944, going to Camp Wallace in Galveston County for training. After eight weeks of training, he came home for a short liberty.
|Ready to ship out|
His gambling activities were further related to me by two of my Aunt Ellen's brothers that I was interviewing for family history information on the occasion of my Aunt Ellen and Uncle Wilbur's 50th wedding anniversary. Frank and Johnnie Hoes told me they were walking down a barracks at Camp Wallace, not knowing my father was also there. They could hear a loud commotion down at the end of the barracks where men were shooting dice. Frank said to Johnnie that it sounded like Red Cooper. When they got there, Red was counting his money and had cleaned out everyone in the barracks. He gave some money to Frank and Johnny and asked them to go to the base exchange and buy enough pints of ice cream for every one in the barracks.
He won a nice camera in New Guinea, and proceeded to take photographs of the base and of the native population. He had made friends with the chaplain, Scott Field Bailey, who was from Austin and later became a Bishop in the Episcopal Church. Chaplain Bailey let him make a dark room underneath the Chapel, which was raised on stilts. Red also hand made an enlarger and other developing equipment out of spare parts.
Below are some of the photographs he made while in New Guinea. Unfortunately, the names of most of the men are unknown to me. If you recognize anyone in the photos that would have served at Hollandia, New Guinea, between late 1944 and early 1946, please contact me with the information.
|Tex Cooper and Lt. Kyser|
|Lt. Kyser and Chaplain Scott F. Bailey|
|Dad's first Boy Scout troop|
|H. L. "Tex" Cooper|
It appears that he didn't miss any days on this month's Beer Ration Card. Note his name is spelled "Hallie." He didn't know it was supposed to be "Halley" until he got out of the service and applied for a VA loan to buy a house. He had to get a delayed birth certificate, and found out then that the doctor he had been named after was Dr. Halley. So, his navy records has his name and birth date wrong.
Here is a chow hall pass.
|The monkey was just one of the guys, sittin with Chaplain Bailey, who listened to all.|
Native Dancers would put on exhibitions
|Dad traded for a bow and arrows, which we still have today.|
He also brought back a miniature outrigger carved by a native.
|The Shellback card (top left) was received after a ceremony to initiate men who were crossing the equator for the first time. Bottom left is is his draft registration card. The two cards on right are driving licenses.|
|H. L. "Tex" Cooper|
|Tex Cooper in middle, shirtless.|
When the Japanese surrendered, numerous enemy ships came to Hollandia to surrender. Once, Red and Chaplain Bailey went out in a small boat to accept the surrender of the ship shown below. He said that they were reprimanded and almost court martialed for doing so.
The ship that surrendered to them was a Japanese navy command ship.
|Japanese flag Dad obtained in a trade. These flags were referred to as "Good Luck" flags. They were presented to soldiers and sailors when they left town to go to war. |
My son Warren had this framed
|In this photo and the one above, the base commander at Hollandia meets with the |
Japanese naval commanders that had just surrendered.
While Red was in the service, mother's parents, Jim and Julia Bird, came to live with us along with her younger sister, Bette Nell. Lois put on her Rosie the Riveter overalls and took a job as a baggage handler at the bus station. Lois is at the far right below. It was a happy time for me and Tammy, with our aunt and grandparents living with us, but it was very stressful for my mother. Her brother, James Wilbur Bird, was listed as missing in action after the landings at Salerno, and it was many months before he was then listed as a prisoner of war.
I'm sure keeping busy at work and having her mother, father, and sister there was a great comfort to her. My grandfather found a job at Capital Saddlery and walked to work there every day. Grandmother cooked and kept house and Bette went to school and watched us kids. Wilbur's wife, Ellen Hoes Bird, and their son, James W. Bird, Jr. lived just down the street from us and we saw them nearly every day as well. James' cousin, Sandra Gale Hoes, who was born the same month I was in October, 1941, and her mother, Josephine Marko Hoes, spent time with us as well, with their father and husband Frank Hoes was also in the navy.
We lived in a duplex, and in the other side was Josephine French and her daughter, Nancy Kathleen, who was my age, as well. Her husband was in the army, fighting in Europe, so we had quite a community of people waiting for their loved ones to come home from the war.
|Lois Bird Cooper on right.|
Lois took numerous photos as well, like the one below of Tammy and Jimmy holding portraits of their dad. She would send them to him and that's how he kept up with his children's lives.
This was in a time of wartime shortages for film, so where did they each acquire the necessary film for all the photos they each made? Red was able to obtain the unused end strips from cameras in planes. He would then cut the rolls and modify them to fit his camera. Lois had a source as well, but I have forgotten that story.
|Tammy and Jimmy with photos of their father.|
When Red came home, Tammy didn't recognize him because she was so young when he had left. She wasn't comfortable around him for a couple of days. She got over it quickly and we spent many afternoons with Dad on the front porch watching all the cars go by and trying to identify them.