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SHARKHUNTERS Salutes Veterans

HARRY COOPER (1-LIFE-1983)

Founder and President of Sharkhunters International

HARRY has had one of the most diversified backgrounds of anyone we have ever met.

 

United States Air Force

HARRY joined the Air Force right out of high school with aspirations of being a fighter pilot, a lifelong dream of his.  He was disappointed to learn that there was more to being a fighter pilot than just wanting it - unlike the war years, one now needed to be 21 years of age to be an officer so that was put on the back burner.  He spent six months in intensive training in weapons and demolition learning all the Air Force weapons from the .38 caliber aluminum pistol the pilots carried to the massive 'special weapons' - hydrogen bombs.

He was happy that his first duty assignment was at Chanute AFB, only 100 miles from his home.  It turned out that this was a training base and there was no need for a weapons and demolition specialist - so he ended up as life guard at the base swimming pool.  It was nice duty - one day on and one day off, but when winter set in and the pool closed for the season, he insisted on a proper assignment.

He was sent to a Strategic Air Command base in the Midwest and commanded a six-man team loading 'special weapons' (hydrogen bombs) onto B-47 bombers during the 'cold war'.  Just prior to his 21st birthday, he sat for the very difficult two days of tests to qualify for Officer Candidate School.  He was the only one of the thirty men tested to pass, and his scores were perfect in some phases and nearly perfect in others. He had an OCS class assigned.  In the meantime, he had a pilot's physical done at the base hospital - everything was perfect.  He was on his way to his lifelong dream of being a fighter pilot.  But it was not to be!  As he was about to re-enlist for the required six more years, his career counselor told him that the Air Force had so many pilots left over from the Second World War and Korea that Air Cadets was shut down.  He could be an officer, but he would never be a pilot.

Sadly, he put down his pen, did not re-enlist, and when his hitch was finished, he left the AF

After college, HARRY went into the business world where he climbed the corporate ladder at various companies ultimately to the position of Regional Vice President of a fairly large company.  During this time, he was also a professional racing driver - first drag racing where he set a number of national records then to 'Figure 8' racing, to short track stock car racing and finally to spending Sunday afternoons at 190 mph on the superspeedways.  During this time he was also a Feature Editor for Stock Car Racing Magazine, had a monthly column in Australian Speedway News and an American racing magazine that is now out of business.  He also was Technical Editor for the Magalog of J. C. Whitney automotive company and did how-to and technical articles for that publication.

For a short time, he was a newscaster on a Chicago television show called 'Motorsports International' where he did the news from the various Chicago area stock car tracks.  He also published a book entitled 'Sponsorship' which showed aspiring racers how to approach their potential sponsors for the money necessary to race.

 
At the 5th Annual Rod and Custom Car Show in Chicago  

At the racetrack with his son Harry Junior, known as 'Scooter'.  Sadly, his son was killed 18 years later when he was just 20.

     
 

1966 was HARRY's first year at the oval tracks and as we see by this photo (left) he sure was skinny.  This 1957 Chevrolet originally was a 1955 that had run on the famous Daytona Beach beach course with Marshal Teague at the wheel.

Below left - his first win that year.  We see by the bent fenders that they played rough at O'Hare Stadium.  HARRY got the nickname of '
Dirty Harry' long before the Clint Eastwood movie ever came out.  He felt that if you were in his way, he would either move you out of the way or just drive through you.

Below right - the car has been straightened out but they didn't have the time to paint the sponsor's name on it or put on their decals.

     
 
     

After several successful years on the short tracks,

 

 it was time to move up to the big leagues

     
 
Look at those Velcro sideburns!   This car had previously been Gary Bettenhausen's
     
 

In #17, HARRY is passing the #19 at about 190 miles per hour.  This was his last race - he sold the entire racing effort and.......read on

HARRY is a LIFE Member of the very prestigious Adventurer's Club in Chicago, a very exclusive organization that is open only to people who have "left the beaten path" and made for adventure.

After "Hanging Up His Helmet" HARRY sold everything, bought a 30 foot sailing yacht and went to live in the Bahamas.  It was to change his life and in fact, would change the way the world viewed the men of the U-Bootwaffe because it was here, thanks to some rumors passed on by local inhabitants about U-Boats that planted the seeds that became the international U-Boat historical organization known as Sharkhunters.


(Above) Brand new in late 1979 and ready to go.
(Right) Sailing peacefully in the Bahamas.

It was during his years living in the Bahamas that HARRY became interested in
the true and honest history of the U-Bootwaffe.   The seeds of what would soon
be the world's largest and only official site of U-Boat history were sewn.
 


In February 1987, Sharkhunters organized the first of what was to become fantastic annual "Patrols".

   
(l) KAYCEE COOPER (161-1986) and HARRY COOPER
(r) HARRY COOPER and the Today Show film crew
  COOPER is 6th from the left at Atlantis Dive Shop
owned by Captain SPENCER SLATE 1657-1990).



In 1995 HARRY joined another branch:

United States Coast Guard (Aux.)

HARRY began as the FPO (Flotilla Publications Officer).  He soon became the District PO.  When the need arose in his Flotilla, HARRY became the Vice Flotilla Commander.

After a year or so, HARRY transferred to another Flotilla and became the Flotilla Commander with two rings on his sleeve, the same as a full Lieutenant.

 

CLICK ON THESE SCENES TO WATCH COOPER ON FILM
   
SCENE #1     SCENE #2   SCENE #3
 

 

At the Sharkhunters 2000 "Patrol in Paradise", HARRY is 5th from the left.  From the left is SEAN COOPER (½-LIFE-1987); KARL-HEINZ WIEBE (226-1986); IGOR KURDIN (6015-2000); LEV-DAVIDOVICH CHERNAVIN (4973-1996); HARRY COOPER (a-LIFE-1983); RAD. JOSEPH PECK (4287-1995); Captain Cherkashin; VOLKMAR KÖNIG (5428-1997); ERICH TOPP (118-1985); SIEGFRIED KOITSCHKA (225-1986).  Photo taken at Kings Bay Submarine Base.

Some of HARRY's other military or quasi-military history includes:

 

Commissar of the Soviet Union for the Peace

 

 to the Oceans Committee based in Moscow.

     
     
 

Honorary Submarine Officer, Russian Navy

 

 - St. Petersburg Flotilla.

HARRY was awarded the Admiral Kuznetzev Medal for his International Humanitarian Service.

 


More of HARRY's history includes:

 

          groß silberne Ulrichsbergabzeichen

          the Grand Ulrichsberg Badge in Silver

     
 

Landesehrenzeichen in Gold - Salzberg

Landesehrenzeichen in Gold - Kärnten

These two awards are awarded very rarely - even more rarely to people other than Germans or Austrians and to the best of our knowledge, HARRY is the only American ever to be awarded both of these two extremely high awards.  The award document for the Salzburg medal is below left.

In addition, HARRY was also named 'Ambassador to Ulrichsberg' and that award document appears directly below.

     
 
     
 

In the sleepy little town of Redipuglia, Italy we visited the battlefield where young Erwin Rommel earned his Pour l'Merit (the Blue Max).  Our group was formally received by the Mayor and he presented this beautiful medal to HARRY.  Only 250 of these medals have been made in bronze and this is one of them. 

Ten more were made in silver and the first of those was presented to the Pope.

     

                               
HARRY is a Kentucky Colonel (Medal of Distinction above), was on the General's Staff and received this award.

He was 'knighted' as Knight of Landskron Castle where he swore to protect the castle 'with sword and mace'.  Let's hope it never comes to that...............

 

      .....in addition

 
HARRY is listed in the International
"Who's Who of World Business Leaders"
  .....and he is also listed in the famous
"Who's Who in America"
 

Man of the Year 2011

The American Biographical Institute has nominated HARRY COOPER for this honor.  This is from their letter dated 2 December 2011:

"I am delighted to announce your nomination for the American Biographical Institute's prestigious honor, Man of the Year 2011, for distinguished accomplishments in your field.  The Institute's International Board of Research decided on your nomination after a careful global evaluation of individuals who have excelled in their professions.  The nomination conclusions were not only selected from our biographical archives, but also through correspondence with prominent businesses, media resources, universities and organizations around the world.

It was a difficult decision to determine who would be among our men of the year for 2011.  You are our choice for this honor after reviewing hundreds of achievements.  My congratulations to you on your selection.  It will be my distinct privilege to recognize your effectiveness within your profession."


It is signed by C. A. Mitchell; Governing Board of Editors


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