Christopher Michael Cooper
Major, United States Air Force
All six airmen aboard the B-52 bomber that crashed Monday off Guam's northwest coast were killed, Air Force officials confirmed Wednesday.
Aboard Raider 21 were Major Christopher M. Cooper, 33; Major Brent D. Williams, 37; Captain Michael K. Dodson, 31; First Lieuenant Joshua D. Shepherd, 26; First Lieutenant Robert D Gerren, 32; and Colonel George Martin.
The plane crashed about 30 miles northwest of Guam, the Air Force said in a statement.
Air Force crews switched from a rescue operation to a recovery operation over the 7,000-square-mile crash site, said Air Force spokeswoman Sergeant Ashleigh Bryant.
The bomber was scheduled to fly over crowds celebrating Liberation Day, which commemorates the U.S. capture of Guam from Japan in 1944, said Captain Joel Stark, spokesman for Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.
The B-52H Stratofortress, based at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, was in Guam as part of a four-month rotation when it went down about 9:45 a.m. Monday (7:45 p.m. ET Sunday), Stark said.
Martin was a physician and second in command of the medical unit at Andersen and not a member of the crew.
There were no weapons or munitions aboard the
aircraft, the Air Force said.
"Losing this bomber crew has been a tragedy felt by everyone here and across the Air Force," said Brigadier General Doug Owens, commander of the 36th Wing.
The six crew members were identified as Major Christopher M. Cooper, 33, aircraft commander; Major Brent D. Williams, 37, navigator; Captain Michael K. Dodson, 31, co-pilot; First Lieutenant Joshua D. Shepherd, 25, navigator; First Lieuetnant Robert D. Gerren, 32, electronic warfare officer; and Colonel George Martin, 51, flight surgeon, who also was the deputy commander of 36th Medical Group at Andersen Air Force Base. The bodies of Cooper and Williams were recovered, the Air Force said.
"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of these airmen," said Colonel Robert Wheeler, 2d Bomb Wing commander. "We appreciate the military and civilian organizations who are continuing recovery efforts to bring our airmen home."
A panel of Air Force officers is investigating the crash. The unarmed bomber crashed Monday during a swing around the island as part of Guam Liberation Day celebrations, marking the day when the U.S. military arrived to retake control of the island from Japan during World War II. The B-52 had been scheduled to conduct a flyover in a parade. The Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force, National Guard and local agencies scoured more than 7,000 square miles of the Pacific in three days before suspending the search for survivors.
"It's extremely difficult to suspend this search," said Captain Thomas Sparks, commanding officer of the Coast Guard's Sector Guam. "Our hearts go out to the families of the victims and the entire Coast Guard grieves for their loss."
The crew was based at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Flags were being flown at half-staff at the Louisiana state Capitol to honor them. They were deployed to Guam with the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron as part of the U.S. military's continuous bomber presence mission in the Pacific.
The B-52 was carrying nearly 19,000 gallons
of jet fuel when it crashed but the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association
determined there was no threat to the environment because all or most of
the fuel had burned, the Coast Guard said.
Guam - Tough news delivered by Andersen Air Force Base that they were shift the focus from search to recovery, resigning to the fact that there were no survivors of the crash of a B-52 bomber that crashed Monday.
A release from PAO Captain Joel Stark identifies one of the crewmembers as Major Christopher M. Cooper, the plane's commander at the time.
Major Cooper's body was one of the two reported to have been recovered Monday after the crash, officials say, and the air force will identify the second body pending notification of the victim's family.
Although four of the crewmembers remain at large, the Watertown Daily Time reports that the Air Force has released the names of all six aboard the flight. They are:
Colonel George Martin, a physician and second in command of the Andersen Air Force Base Medical Unit. (age not listed.)
32-year-old First Lieutenant Robert D. Gerren, a B-52 electronic warfare officer
26-year-old First Lieutenant Joshua D. Shepherd, a B-52 navigator
31-year-old Captain Michael K. Dodson, B-52 pilot
33-year-old Major Christopher M. Cooper, 33, B-52 aircraft commander
37-year-old Major Brent D. Williams, 37, B-52 navigator
There is no immediate word on what caused the
crash and the Air Force says a board of officers is investigating.
Airmen of Raider 21 -- Major Cooper was born in Massena, New York. He attended the University of Texas where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1997. He entered the Air Force in 1997 and was commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps.
Major Cooper completed Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma in 1998. After receiving his wings, he attended B-52 pilot qualification training at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana and was assigned to fly the B-52 at Barksdale's 20th Bomb Squadron, 2d Bomb Wing.
In 2000, Major Cooper transferred to the 9th Air Support Operations Squadron, Fort Hood, Texas where he served as an Air Force Liaison Officer. During his service in this capacity, he deployed to Iraq in the 4th Infantry Division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In 2003, Major Cooper returned to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana where he upgraded to B-52 Aircraft Commander and was assigned to fly at the 96th Bomb Squadron, 2nd Bomb Wing. At the 96th, Major Cooper served as a flight commander and was selected to attend Squadron Officer School in residence at Maxwell AFB, Alabama in 2005. In 2006, Major Cooper deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, providing B-52 support to the fight in Afghanistan. In 2007, he became the Chief of Strategic Plans Division where he played a pivotal role in ensuring the 96th met its conventional and nuclear requirements. In early 2008, he completed the Air Command and Staff College non-residence course and upgraded to the position of B-52 Instructor Pilot.
In May, 2008, Major Cooper deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam in support of the Department of Defense's continuous bomber presence in the Pacific. There he served as an Assistant Director of Operations for the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron.
Major Cooper was a Command Pilot with 1885
hours of flying time including 16 combat hours. His awards include the
Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Army
Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, and Army Achievement Medal.
Major Christopher Michael Cooper of Round Rock, Texas, was a Texas native before moving with his family to Messena, New York where he was a 1992 graduate of Massena Central School. He returned to Austin to attend the University of Texas, where he went through the Air Force ROTC program and was commissioned an Air Force Second Lieutenant in 1997. He was an eleven year Air Force veteran whos uncle was also a B-52 pilot. The aircraft commander was stationed at Barksdale where he worked as an instructor pilot. He served two tours in Iraq and served with special operations in Afghanistan. Major Cooper was one of the six victims of the B-52 crash near the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. He was 33.
The urn containing the ramains of Air Force Major Christopher Michael Cooper is carried by
an Honor Guard during his burial service at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, Octoner 17, 2008
COOPER, CHRISTOPHER MICHAEL
Posted: 17 October 2008 Updated: 6 November 2008 Updated: 4 January 2009
Photo By Holly, January 2009