Retired Feb. 1, 1972.
Maj. Gen. Paul T. Cooper is director of laboratories for Headquarters Air Force Systems Command, Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
General Cooper was born in 1919 in Chicago, Ill., and graduated from Purdue University in 1940 with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering and a commission as second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Field Artillery Reserve. In March 1941 he entered active military duty in the Office of the Chief of the Army Air Corps in Washington, D.C.
In October 1942 he began flight training and earned his pilot wings in June 1943. He then was assigned to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations during World War II, where he became commander of the 446th Bombardment Squadron. He participated in eight campaigns, and flew 74 combat missions in the B-25 Mitchell bomber over Italy and France. In March 1946 he returned to civilian life, was employed with the Bendix Aviation Corporation, Teterboro, N.J., as a sales engineer, and was a member of the Air Force Reserve.
In July 1947 he returned to active military duty with the U.S. Air Force and was assigned as chief of the Instrument and Navigation Branch and later chief of equipment laboratory operations of the Engineering Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
When the Korean War began, he was a graduate student at Stanford University in September 1950 he was assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Development, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, first as chief of the Equipment Division; later as chief of the Policy Group which was responsible for Air Force Research and Development Board activities, all Air Force regulations pertaining to research and development, and Air Force interests in foreign research and development such as offshore procurement, the NATO Advisory Group on Aeronautical Research and Development and the Air Force office in Brussels, Belgium.
General Cooper graduated from the U.S. Naval War College at Newport, R.I., in July 1954 and was assigned to the Air Force Missile Test Center, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., where he served a year as director of range operations and then four years as Deputy Commander, AFMTC, in charge of range operations, range development, flight operations, and administration of the contract operations of the Atlantic Missile Range (now Air Force Eastern Test Range). In this post, he was responsible for the planning and development of facilities to accommodate the United States ballistic missile and space programs.
For his work he earned the Legion of Merit and was commended by the Secretary of the Navy for "invaluable contribution to the Polaris missile program."
General Cooper attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Washington, D.C., Class of 1960. In June 1960 he was assigned as assistant director of defense research and engineering, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington, D.C. He was responsible for all Department of Defense ranges and space flight ground support activities. During this four year period he was a member of the DOD-NASA Astronautics and Aeronautics Coordinating Board and Chairman of the Board's Space Flight Ground Environment Panel. His study of DOD missile and space flight test facilities led to the creation of the Air Force Western Test Range, the Army Kwajalein Test Site, and the formation of the DOD Reentry Systems Review Group. He was the principal architect of the DOD-NASA operating agreements at Cape Kennedy and Merritt Island. In addition, he wrote the basic directives enabling NASA to obtain DOD recovery support for Projects Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.
General Cooper became vice commander of Space Systems Division, Los Angeles, Calif., in August 1964, and commander in September 1966. With the merger of Air Force Systems Command's Space Systems Division and Ballistic Systems Division into Space and Missile Systems Organization, General Cooper was named deputy commander for space in July 1967 and vice commander in November 1967. He assumed duties as chief of staff, Air Force Systems Command, in August 1968.
After the Air Force Office of Aerospace Research, the primary basic research organization of the Air Force, was merged into the Air Force Systems Command July 1, 1970, General Cooper was named director of laboratories to supervise the activities of the 12 combined AFSC and OAR laboratories, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and five scientific and technical liaison offices assigned to the Director of Laboratories. The director of laboratories is responsible for Air Force research, exploratory development and advanced development programs and for all technology efforts being performed by and for AFSC.
His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal and French Croix de Guerre with palm.
His hometown is Morrison, Ill.
He was promoted to the temporary grade of major general effective March 20, 1967, with date of rank July 1, 1962.