Eric Vaughn Cooper of Charleston, SC, ’68, A Company, passed away on 31 May 2019. Born 3 October 1945, the only child of Ernest Fielbelkorn, an Air Force ace in World War II who was killed in the Korean War, and June Allyn. Upon his mother’s remarriage to Air Force officer Harold “Hal” Cooper, Eric took the surname of his step father. The family lived at several Air Force installations in Asia, Europe and the United States. Eric finished Manlius Military School in New York, then attended The Citadel. He played football and was a wrestler. Graduating in 1968 as a political science major, he immediately entered the Air Force, and upon completion of flight school, served in the Republic of Viet Nam as an O2 Birddog pilot, flying search and rescue, forward air control, and aerial observation missions. He was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross and ten Air Medals. He later flew F-4 Phantom fighters in Florida. Leaving the Air Force in 1976 as a captain, he then flew commercially, was a stockbroker, owned and operated an aerial advertising business and several restaurants, was a land developer, and had a commercial real estate business for years. He moved to South Carolina from Alabama upon retirement, and was active in Citadel alumni clubs and the Red River Rats, an organization of pilots and air crew who had flown over North Viet Nam. He enjoyed playing high stakes poker and was an accomplished sailor, having participated in some of the sport’s highest levels of competition, namely the Fastnet Race in the United Kingdom, several Transpac Races from Los Angeles to Hawaii, and the Chicago-Mackinac Race.
He is survived by two sons, Todd McGowan of Raleigh, NC, and Chad McGowan of Rock Hill, SC.
A Memorial Service was held 15 June in the Sumerall Chapel, The Citadel. Internment will be later at Arlington National Cemetery.
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