Olympic Valley Navy officer reports from the Gulf of Oman
Tahoe Daily Tribune
OLYMPIC VALLEY – The phone is a chop of static. There is a sound of buzzing, then a shush of blips, and a muted pause before the din and crackle fades and Trevor Cooper’s voice pierces through the line.
“Hello, hello …” he says, breaking the static.
Cooper, a Navy airman, is speaking somewhere in the Gulf of Oman, about 8,000 miles from his former home near Lake Tahoe. Cooper along with the rest of the ship’s 5,000-plus crew on the USS Harry S. Truman, a nuclear powered Nimitz class aircraft carrier, is part of the Afghanistan-based Operation Enduring Freedom.
Cooper has been assigned as a weapons technician responsible for building support equipment for bombs, missiles and ammunition, an assignment he loves.
“I’ve enjoyed the Navy; it’s an experience you’ll never forget,” he said. “You get to know people a lot more.”
Cooper said he remembers when he decided to join the Navy, how surprised his parents – Craig Cooper and step-mom Christie, who live in Squaw Valley, and mother Audrey Kirby and step-father Greg, who live in Hanford, Calif. – were.
“They were very shocked when I joined up with the Navy and they are very proud of me,” Cooper said.
As the USS Truman continues its mission to support troops in Afghanistan, Cooper said life is a mixture of early morning wake-up calls between 4 and 6 a.m. and a variety of drills and support work as he and the crew assist the ship’s personnel tactical aircraft consisting of F/A-18 Hornets, EA-6B Prowlers, E-2C Hawkeyes, SH-60 Seahawks and C-2A Greyhounds.
The aircraft, he said, are tasked with combat missions, search and rescue and supply delivery to US ground troops.
“Everybody on this boat has a certain focus, and when you combine them together you can get anything accomplished,” Cooper said.
Yet, Cooper said he still thinks of home at times, thinks of his parents and friends supporting him back in the states who might worry for his safety. He wants to assure them he’s safe and, in fact, despite the intensity of the war sometimes depicted in the media, missions on USS Truman are going smoothly and efficiently.
“There really isn’t anything to worry about right now – we’re out here in support of other people,” he said.
When Cooper isn’t at work he said he likes to be on the flight deck, watching sunsets, the sky erupting in a streak of oranges and reds, a vista made surreal by the rush and whine of the occasional F/A – 18 Hornet dropping steadily into a high-pitched roar, then caught by the carrier’s aircraft-halting tailhook and arrestor wires.
“I’d say the most fun part is sitting up on the flight deck watching the jets take off and then land, especially at dusk or dawn,” Cooper said. “It’s a perfect day when you get to see them go out and come back again.”
Before his call ended, Cooper wished his family and friends the best, parting with a word of advice: “Tell the folks I miss them and love them and to keep their chin up.”
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