Wahpteton soldier rememberedWAHPETON, N.D. — Spc. Keenan Cooper died doing what he wanted and loved to do since he was in fourth grade. Join the Army and fight for America. “This is where he was always headed. He did his job,” The Rev. Mike Adams said during Cooper’s funeral Friday at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Wahpeton.
By: By Sherri Keaton , Forum Communications Co. , The Jamestown Sun
WAHPETON, N.D. — Spc. Keenan Cooper died doing what he wanted and loved to do since he was in fourth grade. Join the Army and fight for America.
“This is where he was always headed. He did his job,” The Rev. Mike Adams said during Cooper’s funeral Friday at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Wahpeton.
“If you had asked him a month ago, ‘What is it that you want to do?’ When the time comes he would have said, ‘I want to do my job. What I came here to do.’ And he did it.”
The 19-year-old Wahpeton resident died July 5, seven days before his 20th birthday, in Yakuta, Afghanistan, from a roadside explosive while in a convoy, along with Spc. Jerod Osborne.
On Friday, the 82nd Airborne served as pallbearers during the internment, which included full military honors, a 21-gun salute and playing of “Taps.”
Cooper joined the Army in August 2008 and planned to wed his fiance April Travis of Grand Forks in October.
“It is easier to play the what-if game,” Adams said. “What if Keenan’s vehicle was a split second faster or slower? It is easy to play the why game. Many answers to these questions are found in the Bible. We need to have respect for the life God gave us instead of saying ‘I want the world to be this way and that way.’”
Approximately 700 people, including Gov. John Hoeven, attended the standing-room only service, which included tributes on the piano, scriptures read and words spoken from the heart.
After a prayer, Cooper’s medals for good conduct under pressure and under fire among others were acknowledged and will be given to the family.
Cooper was a man of sports. He liked 3D archery, target shooting, reading war-time novels and the sciences.
During the eulogy, Adams said Cooper was a regular person with a big heart.
“One of the things we want to be careful of when it comes to the memory of Keenan is we don’t want to get lost in our mythology,” he said.
He said Cooper was a young man with an iPod and cell phone and, unlike the pastor, knew how to use Facebook.
“We want to make sure we keep these things in balance. He wasn’t a mythological figure. He was Specialist Keenan Cooper,” Adams said. “We’re very proud of him.”
Adams said that before Cooper even knew what Democratic or Republican meant, he wanted to be in the military.
“This is not a political point of view,” the pastor said. “He was where he decided to be. Those are things that the family wants us to remember.”
Faith in country and God were a few of the many focal points the service reflected on. “Keenan comes from a family of faith,” the pastor said. “Both his immediate family and our church. These are people of faith.”
Cooper’s father, David Cooper of Wahpeton, wrote “A Father’s Tribute,” which was read by a long-time family friend.
“To our family, friends and guests, we cry because we have lost that which we love,” David Cooper wrote. “You cry with us because you loved what we have lost and you love us.”
The tribute also mentioned Keenan Cooper’s brothers in arms, acknowledging they didn’t leave him or abandon their post when he was injured. “You stayed with him and brought him home with dignity and honor… we continue to pray for you.”
Sherri Keaton is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.