Joe R, Hooper was born in South Carolina in 1939 and raised in rural Moses Lake, Washington. After serving a three year tour in the Navy, Hooper enlisted in the Army in 1960. Upon completion of his basic training, he eventually joined Company D of the 501st Infantry, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky. They were deployed to Vietnam just before Christmas 1967.
Company D. occupied a series of well protected bunkers along a river bank close to Hue. On the morning of Feb. 21, 1968 a huge squadron of Vietcong pinned them down with rockets, automatic and small weapons fire. The Company Commander requested an air strike. It was denied; the planes were too busy elsewhere.
As rockets, machine guns, and small arms fire exploded along the company's line, Hooper suddenly turned to his squad and shouted "Follow me." With is men close behind, Hooper splashed through the water toward and enemy bunker firing at them. In a few seconds he silenced it. While the rest of the company fanned out through the thick jungle, Hooper pulled several wounded out of the line of fire. He was shot by a sniper but refused treatment and returned to his squad.
Hooper then personally knocked out three more enemy bunkers and killed two enemy soldiers who had attacked the battalion Chaplain while the priest was tending to American wounded. Hooper continued his attack and blew up three hootches that concealed several enemy snipers. A North Vietnamese officer charged him from behind a tree. Hooper killed him with his bayonet.
Later, accurate fire from an enemy machine gun pinned down his squad. Hooper flanked the weapon and silenced it with a well-tossed grenade. He continued and silenced seven more enemy bunkers in the same manner.
When Hooper learned that one of his men was lying wounded and trapped in a ditch, he braved sniper fire to go to the man's aid. Just as he reached the position he came face to face with an enemy soldier. He shot him with his .45 and then carried his wounded comrade to safety.
After the enemy had been driven from the area, Hooper got his squad into position before he finally consented to have his wounds treated. Hooper spent six weeks in the hospital before returning to his squad in the field.
In the summer of 1966, Hooper was honorably discharged, but he spent only nine months as a civillian before re-enlisting. On March 7, 1969, President Nixon presented Hooper with the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions. We should never forget those who have risked their lives for their country and their fellowman.
Please keep all of our service personnel and their families in your prayers.
Charles R. Pearson, Chaplain
Malvern Legion Post 375