174th Assault
Helicopter Company


Biography of

Jim Cooney
WO1 - CW2

Dolphin Pilot

James (Jim) T. Cooney, Captain, USA Ret.

Graduated from Ft. Rucker in June 1967, WORWAC 67-7, Blue Hat.

174th AHC August 1967 to July 1968. Originally assigned to 1st Cav and arrived in New Plieku. Reassigned to 1st Aviation Brigade. Spent a few days with the 282d Blackcats in Da Nang before making it down the coast to Duc Pho. Spent my entire tour flying slicks in 2d Platoon. Much of my time as an Aircraft Commander (AC) was flying Command and Control (C&C) for the 11th Light Infantry Brigade (LIB). Had to contend with BG A. Lipscomb, who hated aviators. He was followed by COL O. Henderson who, unlike his predecessor, listened and understood that we knew the flying side of the game. Last two months in country I flew counter-mortar patrol, otherwise known as the flare ship.

I was born in Shelbyville, Indiana on October 4, 1946, and spent my early years moving around as Dad was a Minister, and then a USAF Chaplain. The Army saw fit to send me to Texas over and over and over, so it became our residency. COL Henderson convinced me to apply for a commission, probably not the wisest decision. I was assigned to Ft. Wolters following Nam, and was a TAC Officer with 1st WOC. After my commission came through, I was assigned as the U.S. S-3 (Operations Officer) for the Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) Battalion at Wolters, training RVN pilots. The last two years I served as the Allied Liaison Officer, looking after some 33 different nationalities who sent officers to flight school.

The My Lai investigations held me at Wolters for almost five years, and when I was finally released, I was sent to 3/5 Cav at Fort Lewis. I commanded the HQ Aviation Platoon with over 200 soldiers. After being told we would get a chance to get our careers back on track after My Lai, I arrived at Ft. Lewis in October 1972. The RIF (reduction in force) board met in January 1973. I was released as a Captain in September 1973. All of the branches were releasing pilots and there were no jobs, so we made the decision to revert to enlisted status until we could really decide what to do. That began an 18 year career, from SP5 Scout to Master Sergeant, including four years as a First Sergeant. Units included the 11th Armored Cav Regiment (ACR) in Germany, 2-1 Cav at Ft. Hood, 4-7 Cav in Korea, 1-9 Cav and 228th Attack Helicopter Battalion at Ft. Hood, 2-68 Armor in Germany, and the 3d Corps at Ft. Hood. Two years were spent as First Sergeant in the 228th, now 1-227th, and two years as a First Sergeant in the 2-68th Tank Battalion.

I volunteered for return to flight duty for Desert Storm and had to go through a refresher course, NVG qualification and Chinook transition. ( I wanted to fly Hooks from the first one I saw at Hanchey when we did our instrument training in flight school, but it took me over 24 years to get my wish!) Although I did not deploy, I remained on active duty with the 2-501st Aviation in Korea and, finally, the 2-158th Aviation at Ft. Hood. I retired in September 1994 with 28 years. I received my Master Aviator wings just before retirement. I stood the retirement ceremony as a CW2 to receive a Legion of Merit, and then when I hit a total of 30 years, my grade was advanced to Captain.

Other awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Airmedal with 27 clusters, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal (MSM), four Army Commendation Medals (ARCOMS), and a bunch more enlisted awards.

My wife, Shirley, and I were married just 20 days before I deployed to RVN, and we have been together ever since. We have three daughters, the last two being twins. I chose to track Safety when I returned to flight duty, and was trained at Rucker as an Aviation Safety Officer. It paid off in more ways than one. It enabled me to get enough flight time for my Master wings, and gave me something to build a career on after retirement.

I have been a Risk Manager for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (prisons) since retirement, working at two female units presently. One is a substance abuse unit and the other a state jail. There is a total of over 1200 female offenders and more than 400 employees. It is an interesting line of work.

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