Mobile Chamber Mourns the Loss of Major General J. Gary Cooper

Last Updated: April 30, 2024By

MOBILE, Ala. – The Mobile Chamber join the entire Mobile community in mourning the loss of a true local hero, Major General J. Gary Cooper. General Cooper was not only a decorated military leader but also a distinguished statesman, diplomat and pillar of our community.

Cooper overcame segregation as a young man and was the first African American officer to lead a Marine Corps infantry company in combat and later achieve the rank of General. He earned a number of decorations for heroism during his time in the military including the Bronze star, two Purple Hearts, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and he received the Vietnamese Cross of the Gallantry three times.

He was one of the first African-Americans to be elected to the State House of Representatives (1974-1978). He was later appointed assistant secretary of the Air Force (1989-1992) by President George H.W. Bush and was named U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica (1994-1997) by President Bill Clinton.

General Cooper never forgot his roots in Mobile. He used his success to give back to his community, advocating for education and opportunity for all.

“Cooper shattered barriers and served his country with unwavering dedication. His leadership extended beyond the battlefield, with a distinguished career in government and business,” said Mobile Chamber President Bradley Byrne. “The Mobile Chamber is deeply grateful for General Cooper’s immense contributions to our nation and our city. He will be deeply missed, but his legacy will continue to motivate us to strive for excellence and service.”

Each year, the Mobile Chamber bestows an award in General Cooper’s name, recognizing a current or past military member who embodies the values he championed: achievement, courage, excellence and humility. General Cooper’s life exemplified these values in a way that continues to inspire us all.

In honor of Major General J. Gary Cooper, the Mobile Chamber has lowered the flag to half-mast.

Click here to view his full obituary and funeral arrangements.

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