SWFL veterans reflect on lifetimes of military service

Writer: Joey Pellegrino
American flags. (Credit: CBS)
American flags. (Credit: CBS)

Today is Veterans Day, but though there are more than 100,000 veterans living in Southwest Florida, celebrations cannot go on as usual due to the pandemic. As such, many are moving online.

“The military is what keeps us strong, it’s what keeps us great,” said retired Sgt. William Cooper of the U.S. Army.

Cooper was a weather forecaster for the Army during the Pacific War. His team of six would rely on data from ships to predict the weather and determine whether it was safe for the B-29 pilots to fly from their base in Guam to Japan and back.

Their biggest obstacle: typhoons.

“We would print out charts for [the pilots] to read, but they didn’t like those charts too well—they never read them, they’d get back and always complain that they ran into storms they didn’t know about,” Cooper said. “So I came up with drawing pictures, so I would draw the clouds and provide them a pictorial view. The pilots liked that they could just look at a picture, and that got me promoted to sergeant.”

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