Reader's Comments

Lance Pogue    Eupora, MS
Justin Cooper was a "GREAT AMERICAN!" Cooper had a GIANT heart and would do anything to help others. I'm very proud to have had the great privilege to Coach him at Eupora High School. He was without question the "toughest" kid I've ever coached and had an unbelievable will to win! I will never forget Justin nor will anyone else that knew him! Justin Cooper is a true "AMERICAN HERO!'

RaNae Vaughn     Iuka, MS
Thanks, Coop, for your service.  You will never be forgotten.

LACY CRUM     WALNUT, MS
THANKS JUSTIN FOR SERVING OUR COUNTRY.R.I.P.

JIll Self     Pontotoc, MS
Thank-you Justin.

Pat Woods    Winona, MS
Justin was a great person and wonderful nephew.  Justin had a kind heart and was always the first there when family or friends needed him.  He is absent from us on earth but I know we will see him again in heaven. Justin will always be alive in our hearts and memories.

Amanda Herbert     Eupora, MS
Cooper is my hero! He is forever in my thoughts! Not a day Goes by that he doesn't cross my mind. I am honore and privileged to have known him. He has changed my life forever.. <3 you coop and miss you dearly!

Linda Murphy     Stewart MS
I have many memories of taking Justin around with my daughter Kayla and her friends.  We rolled many yards including his own and spent wonderful times laughing and trying to keep them out of trouble. :-)   We all loved Justin and his heart warming smile !!!

Alan Cooper     Eupora, Ms.
Thanks to the Journal for taking the time and effort to remember Justin and all our troops that have willingly paid the ultimate price for our freedom. It helps immensely to know that there are so many out there who will always remember our son. I am so proud of him and will love him forever and miss his wonderful presence every moment for the rest of my life. Semper Fi son, love, Daddy





A SOLDIER'S HEART
Marine Corporal William Justin Cooper
Eupora, MS
Died May 19, 2008







Most people spend Christmas Eve with their family looking forward to the gifts to be opened the next morning. But that wasn’t the case in the Cooper household on Christmas Eve 2004. Justin Cooper sat down to have a serious conversation with his parents, Alan and Debra Cooper of Eupora. The first words out of Justin’s mouth were, “I want to join the Marines.” Shortly thereafter, Justin informed them that he had in fact already joined the Marines. He had signed up earlier that week. “This is what I want,” he said with deep conviction to his parents who were supportive of his decision after the conversation. After all, they knew if Justin had made up his mind about something it was already too late to change it.

Justin, nicknamed “Coop” by his friends, officially became a marine on December 27, 2004. He threw himself into the Corps just as he had everything else he had ever done. In high school, Justin tried out for the football team having never played a down of organized football in his life. His coach said he didn’t know football, but he knew how to work hard. Two years later, Justin was selected as the Co-Defensive Lineman of the Year for his team.

Justin had another gift besides determination. He was a natural at connecting with people. His father once said Justin had more friends than anyone he'd ever known. It was echoed by his classmates. He was the one everyone wanted to have around and he would stand up for anyone he was friends with. Loyalty was as strong a trait of Justin as determination. High school classmate Heather Burchfield said this about Justin, "He always had a soldier's heart. He was a very loyal friend."

Justin took the same mentality into the Marine Corps, the will to work and the ability to connect with others. His work ethic gained the respect of his peers. His personality made him one of the most-liked members of his unit. In just four years in the Marine Corps, Justin had earned numerous commendations, including the Good Conduct Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Iraq Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Medal, as well as two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.

Perhaps the greatest skill Justin brought to the Marine Corps was his skill as a marksmen. His dead eye and steady hand helped him earn his way onto a sniper team, an elite designation within the Corps. Even his fellow Marines knew that Justin was gifted. It was in those duties as a sniper, working in a combat support mission, that Justin was killed on May 19, 2008. A bullet pierced his body in the chest, just above the body armor he was wearing.

The news of Justin's death hit Eupora hard. It hit his family even harder. Justin's father always thought highly of his son. But Justin's death cemented his son as his hero. Lifelong friend Lee Baker, who was born the same day as Justin and grew up with him side by side, put it best. "Our whole town is hurting for the loss of Justin," said Lee. "He's going to be severely missed and always remembered."  Justin's friends from Eupora came together to build a memorial to make sure that their friend “Coop” would never be forgotten.


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Justin Cooper loved being a member of the Marine Corps and was equally loved by the men in his unit, his friends in Eupora, and his family.

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