A candlelight vigil is scheduled for this Saturday night to honor a McMinnville native and Warren County High School graduate who was killed Nov. 24 in an Army helicopter crash.
Stephen Brent Cooley, 40, was killed at Fort Hood, Texas when his Black Hawk helicopter crashed during routine training exercises. The Army has yet to release more details on the crash, saying it remains under investigation.
Cooley was a 1994 WCHS graduate who enjoyed a distinguished, 20-year military career. A chief warrant officer 3, Cooley served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Cooley has a son who still lives in Warren County, Coty Ray Cantrell, and a number of other friends and family members. To honor his memory, a candlelight vigil will be held at the Court Square fountain this Saturday, Dec. 19, at 6:30 p.m.
Cooley was one of four soldiers killed in the helicopter crash on the sprawling Fort Hood base that covers 214,000 acres. His funeral service was held Dec. 9, and a military ceremony was held Dec. 10 at Fort Hood.
After graduation, Cooley joined the Marine Corps. During his time with the Marines, he performed embassy duties in Nicaragua, Moscow, Russia and Prague, Czech Republic. After receiving an honorable discharge, he commissioned into the Army and became a UH-60 helicopter pilot in 2006. He served in Katterbach, Germany, Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Hood, Texas, along with three combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Cooley received the following awards: three Air Medals, two Army Commendation Medals, three Navy Achievement Medals, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, two National Defense Service Medals, Iraq Campaign Medal with two stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Marine Corps Security Ribbon, Navy Marine Corps Overseas Ribbon, Marine Corps Reserve Ribbon, Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, three Overseas Service Ribbons, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal, Army Aviator Badge, and the Senior Army Aviator Badge.