Cooper, Marion E. (643rd)

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Biography:  Marion Edison Cooper was born on September 2. 1922, in Mardela Springs, Maryland. He was the son of Ernest L. Cooper and Victoria Wilson and graduated from the town’s one room school in 1939, or 1940.

He then went to work for the Hercules company, which was a chemical company that also manufactured munitions. Marion’s discharge indicates he was working as a file clerk, prior to the war.

Service Time:  Marion entered the service on December 29, 1942, at Fort Dix, New Jersey. After his basic training, he was assigned to B Company of the 608th Tank Destroyer Battalion and was probably with them for a short time at Fort Jackson, South Carolina before they moved to Camp Atterbury, Indiana, on June 9, 1943. On December 20th, the unit was deactivated and its members sent to others units. Marion was transferred to the 643rd and assigned to the Headquarters Company of the unit, which was stationed at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma at the time.

Marion continued his training and in March of 1944, he qualified as an Expert with the 3″ (TD) gun, a Marksman with the M1 rifle and an Expert with the Thompson Sub-Machine gun. His military occupation is identified as general clerk. 

A small detail of men from the 643rd shipped out for the United Kingdom on August 10, 1944, and arrived in Glasgow, Scotland on the 22nd. They boarded transports landed at Utah beach on the 31st. The rest of the unit would ship out from the Boston port on September 5th and arrived at Cherbourg France on the 15th. They were equipped with 3″ towed guns and were first engaged near Manhay, Belgium, on December 22nd. The 643rd crossed the Roer River on February 24, 1945.

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The unit re-equipped with M18 tank destroyers in March, when they crossed the Rhine River at Wesel and the Elbe River en route to Zerbst. They were then withdrawn to take up occupation duties in the Harz Mountains.

Marion shipped back to the U.S. on June 26, and arrived on July 3rd. He was transferred to Co. D, of the 414th Infantry Regiment at some point, and probably while at Camp San Luis Obispo, California, which is where the 414th was stationed after the war and where Marion was discharged on December 6th. He received credit for the campaigns Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland and Central Europe and was awarded the EAME, American Service, WWII Victory and the Good Conduct Medals. He left the service at the rank of Staff Sergeant.

Honorable Discharge

Marion E. Cooper 4With his military service behind him, Marion would set his mind to continue his education and attended a two-year college for bookkeeping. We are not sure which school but it may have been the Beacom or the Goldey schools in Wilmington, Delaware. Interestingly, on June 28, 1947, Marion married the former M. Agnes Wessells who was attending the other school. Agnes was born in Modest Town, Virginia, and was the daughter of John Wessells and Vida Ross.

The new couple made their home in Newark, DE, and had two sons, John, born in 1953, and Gary in 1956. Marion worked in the accounting department of Delmarva Power and in his spare time, enjoyed being outdoors, tending to his gardens and bird watching. He was also a long-time member of the White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church. 

Marion passed away in August 24, 2013, and was buried in the White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church in Newark, DE. I want to thank Marion’s son for providing the information and photos for this tribute. Thank you to Find A Grave contributor Hal G. Brown, for the use of the grave marker photo.

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