Cooter Retires after 27 years
(Reprint from "The Barbers Pointer" May 1,1998 story by Bill Erwin)
Master Chief Robert A. Cooter retires:
It was in 1968, just after he graduated from high school, that one young man, as required by law, registered with the local Selective Service Board. Rather than wait for the draft board to decide his fate, he took the initiative and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. The decision sealed Aviation Mechanic Master Chief (AW/NAC) Robert A Cooter's fate as a career Sailor.
Thirty years later, Cooter, his wife and their four children were honored at his retirement ceremonies at Paradise West, Hawaii.
Prior to 1965, Cooter was a citizen and resident of Canada. That year he moved to California and enrolled at Rowland High School. "After enlisting in the Navy I completed boot camp in San Diego," said Cooter. "The I went to Memphis where I was trained as an Aviation Structures Mechanic." Cooter's first assignment was with VRC-50 in Atsugi, Japan. "I was designated as a Naval Air Crewman on a C-2A aircraft," he said. The job required that Cooter spend a lot of time in the Philippines, and that is where he met his wife, Virginia. They were married in 1969.
Cooter was promoted to Chief Petty Officer in 1985 while assigned to VF-151, a Strike Fighter Squadron aboard the USS Midway, Yokuska, Japan. One of the squadron's major tasks was to get the aircraft back to Lemoore, Calif., and begin the transition from the F-4 Phantoms; to the F-18 Hornets; Cooter coordinated the flawless transfer of 41 aircraft. His commanding officer, T. S. Heath, called Cooter "far and away my nomber one Chief Petty Officer."
In 1988 Cooter moved to San Diego and went to work for VF-124, where he was promoted to Senior Chief. In making the recommendation for his promotion his commanding officer, Caprt. R. J. Bradley, referred to Cooter as the "cornerstone of the command's maintenance department."
Cooter was promoted to Master Chief shortly after being assigned to Attack Squadron 52 at Whidbey Island, Wash. There, he was selected as the Attack Wing Pacific Maintenance Chief - Master Chief of the Year.
Cooter arrived at NAS Barbers Point in 1995. He served at AIMD as the Quality Assurance, Maintenance Safety and Hazardous Material Officer; Produciton Control Master Chief; and Maintenance Material Control Officer. Also during this time he served a year as Command Master Chief until Machinist's Mate Master Chief (SS) Dennis Lust relieved him.
During his tenure with AIMD Cooter significantly contributed to the organization's selection as CINPACFLT's 1996 nominee for the Secretary of Defense's Maintenance Award. Although Cooter says he has enjoyed all of his assignments, he says his most rewarding duty was with VA-52 where he was involved with the multinational air strikes on Iraq. "I was responsible for helping launch 12 fully operational A-6's with 24 two thousand pound bombs," said Cooter "All were on target."
By his side during his colorful career has been Viginia and their four children, Jeff, Christine, Kimberly and Robert. Cooter is also grandfather to Demi, Storm, Seth and Akada.
"i want to thank all of my children for the sacrifices they have made," said Cooter. "I thank them for all the special occasions they endured without my presence. Those were their contributions to doing the right things."
Cooter took time during the retirement ceremony to praise his wife, Virginia. "Honey, it has been quite a ride," Cooter said. "You are the most special person in this world to me. I could not have made it to this stage of my life without you. You are my best friend. I am truly, madly, deeply in love with you."
Cooter left his fellow Sailors with his secret to success. Besides hard work, he attributed "attitude" as the secret to making things happen. "A good attitude along with a smile is contagious," said Cooter. "It spreads like wildfire through a work center, a squadron, a home or a school. It has opened doors for me all over the world and it can do the same for you." As part of the retirement ceremony, Cooter was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, received a Certificate of Appreciation from President Bill Clinton and was presented the Fleet Reserve Certificate.
Kernan, the keynote speaker for the ceremony, outlined Cooter's career. "There have been many exciting moments some rewarding, some heartbreaking," said Kernan. "However, your success illustrates that you and those who have worked for you, and with you, were well prepared and had a clear sense of the important mission at hand. At each turn, you had the resolve and vision to seize the moment."