Every Year on March 1 is designated Joe Cooper Day in Brevard

WWII and Korean War veteran Joe Cooper holds up his key to the City of Brevard, celebrating the 2nd Annual Joe Cooper Day in Brevard. Mayor Maureen Copelof (right) presented the key as Cooper’s niece, Eunice Frady (left) looked on.

joe cooper with niece and mayor of brevard


In early 2023, Joe Cooper was given a “make-a-wish” opportunity by the NC State Veterans Home in Black Mountain where he resides. One of his wishes: visit the Veterans History Museum in Brevard.

Last March 1, Brevard’s Mayor Copelof welcomed Cooper with a public ceremony and read a proclamation declaring the date Joe Cooper Day. Cooper was then 100 years old (photo at right).

This year, at age 101, Cooper celebrated the 2nd annual Joe Cooper Day by visiting the museum on its March 1 opening of the 2024 season. He greeted visitors and showed them the 1945 pictures of a Japanese “Betty” kamikaze plane he and his shipmates shot down in the Pacific, and the photograph of his ship, the USS Ommaney Bay, as it burned after a kamikaze crashed into it on January 5, 1945.

The USS Ommaney Bay blows up

Japanese “Betty” kamikaze plane shot down by Joe Cooper and his shipmates, before the attack on the USS Ommaney Bay.

uss ommaney bay

The USS Ommaney Bay, burned as the surviving members of its crew watched from the USS Minneapolis after they were rescued.

Joe Cooper maybe the only living survivor.

Since 2023’s first Joe Cooper Day, the wreckage of the USS Ommaney Bay was discovered in the Pacific by an Australian exploration company. Cooper has been visited or interviewed by 13 news outlets, including a team from NHk Japan Broadcasting, about his experience on the USS Ommaney Bay, as he is thought to be the only living survivor.

joe cooper wwii veteran being interviewed

Joe Cooper being interviewed by NHk Japan Broadcasting.

young joe cooper

Joe Cooper

5 hours in shark-infested waters

Cooper survived 5 hours in shark-infested waters. After WWII ended, he enlisted in the Army and served on recon patrols in the Korean War.

We look forward to celebrating many more Joe Cooper Days with Joe!