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Navy Veteran Al Hooper, Jr.

 

By Tre Lapierre, Keller Chapter of Young Men’s Service League/Keller High School Student

Recently, Tre Lapierre, a member of the Keller Chapter of the Young Men’s Service League and Keller High School Student, had the opportunity to interview United States Navy veteran, Al Hooper, Jr., in honor of Veterans Day. Today, Hooper is a resident at Whitley Place, an assisted living and senior living center in Keller. 

Each year, YMSL plans the “Ultimate Gift,” a large-scale, multi-faceted service project that spans the entirety of the school year and focuses on doing something meaningful for a philanthropy. This year the theme for the Ultimate Gift is “Gather the Generations,” and the recipient is Whitley Place.

For Lapierre, this was a great opportunity to “gather the generations” for himself, as a young man with a senior veteran. To honor Hooper and other veterans for Veterans Day, YMSL members will host a “Salute to Service” parade on Saturday, Nov. 12 at Whitley Place.

United States Navy veteran Al Hooper Jr., was born in Gibson Bay, Rhode Island on March 3, 1944. Hooper was one of four children and a son of an iceman. Growing up during the 1950s at the age of 13, Hooper and older brother worked alongside their father. During the busy summer season, Hooper described the strength he needed to haul ice from the ice truck up three flights of stairs and run back down to hurry off to the next delivery.  

When Hooper turned 18, his sense of duty called. He enlisted into the United States Navy. He served our country for 22 years, from 1963 to 1985. At one point in his career Hooper served as a Navy recruiter, but his main assignment was a radioman. 

To this day Hooper is fluent in Morse code and loves to test those that live and work at Whitley Place, an assisted living and senior living center in Keller, Texas, where he now resides. As Hooper explained his duties to me, he smiled, saying Morse code has no language barrier and is the best way to communicate around the world. 

Hooper showed me his uniform and pointed out the sparks just above his stripes on the sleeve. He smiled again and said, “We made sparks fly,” as he passed on information to others across the waters via Morse code.

Throughout the span of his career, Hooper was stationed on eight different ships, including destroyers, assistant destroyers, and aircraft carriers. He recalled The Roosevelt and The Shangri-La as the best ships. Hooper showed me the map on his wall marking the various ports where the ships took him. 

Hooper said that the main assignment was to bring the ships into parts of the world to show the presence of the United States – and that the United States was not a country to press. 

Along with Hooper’s duties as a radioman, he had night patrol duty while stationed on the ships. He loved being in the open night air, watching the waves throughout his adventures around the world. Some of his favorite ports were in the Mediterranean and Nova Scotia.

Hooper retired from the Navy in 1985 as an E6, Chief Petty Officer, 1st Class. The sense of adventure never too far from his thoughts, he was also part of the Harley Owners Group (HOG) for 25 years. He traded adventure on the waters for adventure on the roads. 

Today at Whitley Place, Hooper enjoys sharing his stories about his Navy experiences with the other residents, always with his trademark smile and a sense of joy. He often patrols the halls and grounds with a sense of duty that has been ingrained in him from so long ago.  

In honor of Veterans Day, as a young man who experiences freedom in this great country, I want to thank Mr. Hooper, and all those that have served our country for their service. We salute you!

About Young Men’s Service League: YMSL represents over 10,000 moms and 11,000 young men as part of more than 100 chapters across 16 states. Their combined efforts are expected to have more than 400,000 service hours performed this year. www.YMSL.org