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A veteran-to-veteran storytelling project designed to let Miami Valley veterans describe their own experiences, in their own words with a special focus on stories of re-entry into civilian life.

Veterans' Voices: Bonding With Famous Military Figures

Tracy Cooper
StoryCorps
Tracy Cooper

In wartime, there are celebrity generals like Norman Schwarzkopf, celebrity adversaries like Saddam Hussein, and the men and women who carry out their orders. And at times, they cross paths. Air Force Veterans Tracy Cooper of Huber Heights shares his story as part of Veterans' Voices

Transcript:

Tracy Cooper: I went to Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and I arrived in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia on September the first of nineteen ninety for Operation Desert Shield.

General Schwarzkopf came to visit. They let us know to make sure we had the jets all clean. We used to write things on the field tanks. So, the Wing Commander had us take all the writing off the tanks, you know, because of Schwarzkopf. So, I’m standing there, and I had that thirty-third dicky thing you wear…it’s got your patch, it goes underneath. It’s a scarf, basically. So, I’m all starched and sharp, polished boots, standing tall. He said, “Do you mind if I call you Coop,” because my last name is Cooper. I said, “No, sir, call me anything you want.” He said, “Why is there no writing on the fuel tanks?” I said, “Well, because he told us to take it off.” He said, “Give me your marker.” Schwarzkopf walked up to my fuel tank and said, “Put this one in your ass, Saddam. General S.”

What a lot of people, civilians especially, have a hard time understanding is, you might be pretty tight when you’re in boot, but when you get out, and then you deploy, and you go into combat, that brother and sisterhood is a lot more in depth, a lot more bonding.

Barry Mueller. We call him Harry. He was a wild man. He's retired. He lives in Italy, now. It was so funny. For some reason, during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, women would send him underwear. And he would tack them up on the wall. I don't know how many pairs he had, but there were a lot, right? And they were showing General Schwarzkopf around the compound and showing him our rooms. They went into Harry's room. He had his headset on, he was in his underwear playing the air guitar on top of his bed with all these women's underwear. General Schwarzkopf just looked at him and said, “Sergeant, how are you?” Harry just looked at him and said, “Not good. Not good.” I’ll never forget that. That was so funny. 

Tracy Cooper told his story at WYSO as part of StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative which visited the Miami Valley last summer. Veterans’ Voices on WYSO is presented by Wright-Patt Credit Union with additional support from CareSource. This story was edited by Tony Holloway and Will Davis and created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.