Bad day? You don't know a bad day, says Brewco's Stewart Cooper. His father, David, is an Army veteran stationed in Baghdad, Iraq DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 9, 2003) -- Stewart Cooper doesn't like to hear people complain about tough days at...
Bad day? You don't know a bad day, says Brewco's Stewart Cooper.
His father, David, is an Army veteran stationed in Baghdad, Iraq
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 9, 2003) -- Stewart Cooper doesn't like to hear people complain about tough days at the office. Cooper, the car chief and rear tire changer for David Green (No. 37 Timber Wolf Pontiac), has a father who knows what a tough day truly is. David Cooper is an Army first sergeant stationed in Baghdad, Iraq.
So, no, don't go griping to Stewart Cooper about working a couple of hours of overtime. The elder Cooper has been in the military since joining the Army in the late 1960s, and has been on his current overseas tour for about seven months. He's now helping train the Iraqi people to build their own police force. Before being deployed overseas, David Cooper was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., just over an hour drive from Brewco Motorsports' shop in Central City, Ky.
The younger Cooper, 25, is from Mt. Juliet, Tenn., and graduated from Mt. Juliet High School in 1996.
The following is a transcript of an interview with Stewart Cooper:
@#Q: Is there any way to put into words what it was like the last time you saw your father?
@!SC: When you get deployed, they put the whole units together for roughly three or four months. They go through a bunch of different training for the area that they're going in. They really don't let the families go in there until the final week. You basically go and spend roughly three or four hours, and that's it. Pretty much, I went up there one day and spent the day with him. Then, they actually left at 2 a.m. They flew out of Fort Campbell.
You know, it's probably different for me. I'm so used to it, because I grew up around it. It's bad and it's different. But that's his job, and he knows what he's doing. I try not to look at the negative side of things. I kind of look at the positive side of stuff, and what they're there for. There's a lot of risk involved, but you try not to think about it and just move on with the positive side of it.
@#Q: How often do you have contact with him now?
@!SC: Right now, they have satellite phones and only the higher-ranked people get them. I probably talk to him once every two months. I've probably talked to him a total of three times since he's been over there.
@#Q: What is the experience of talking to your father like, with him being so far removed?
@!SC: You probably don't lay down at night and not think about it. You have such luxuries of air conditioning and stuff, and you read these letters [in which the elder Cooper writes] that it's 130 degrees. They can't take a shower but once every two days. They get one hot meal a day. He's 50 years old, and you're like, 'Man, that's crazy.'
The biggest deal that bothers me ... I'm young, but I understand the sacrifice that goes on. Somebody that's not raised in it is not aware of what these people go through, just so we can do what we do. It really bothers me. I don't mind voicing my opinion sometimes when people think they're having a bad day. I want to say, 'Hey, look. You don't know what a bad day really is.'
He sent me a letter two weeks ago, and they're staying in a blown-out apartment building. They had no windows, no air conditioning. The Corps had come in there and put new windows and an air conditioning unit in. The next day, the U.N. building blew up, and it blew all the windows out of the building that they'd just had new windows put in. So they had 'a.c.' for one day.
@#Q: What does your father do?
@!SC: Actually, right now, they're working with M.P. [military police] units through the National Guard. He's (overseeing) five police stations. They're training the Iraqi police how to be police officers. Their first graduating class, they had a terrorist attack. Somebody threw a grenade in there and four of them died.
@#Q: What would it mean to you to be able to win the NASCAR Busch Series championship and dedicate it to your father?
@!SC: I'd love to dedicate it to both my mom [Pam Malone] and my dad. Both of them have worked hard to get me where I'm at today. They've both supported me 100 percent.