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97-year-old three-war Marine veteran: 'I've had a good life'

Marine Veteran fought in three wars.jpg
Retired Marine corp Colonel Carl Cooper, 97, said one of his proudest moments is when five of his men were awarded silver stars in the Battle of Okinawa. 

With hands over hearts, salutes to the flag, and the bowing of heads during prayer, Veterans' Day revives the stories of those who fought on the battlefield.

Dozens of veterans came out to the American Village Friday morning for a salute to their service.

Governor Kay Ivey, among others, spoke to active duty and former service members at the ceremony.

18 World War II veterans came for the salute. For one veteran in particular, his attendance is nothing short of remarkable.

"I know I speak for each of us [when I say] we are proud that we could serve our country because we love it," said 97-year-old Retired Marine corps Colonel Carl Cooper.

Colonel Cooper told ABC 33/40, "I'm still here. But the good Lord has blessed."

Colonel Cooper's service in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War gives him a lot to talk about.

"One assignment [was] Okinawa. Five of my boys got the Silver Star on one operation, and that was great. I was proud for them."

Just like the old suit Colonel Cooper donned, displaying his service medals, his humor hasn't faded.

Though the Colonel has many years behind him, he says, "I've got a few more years that I want to fill up."

From playing football at Samford, to earning multiple college degrees, and being the first principal of Mountain Brook Junior High School, the Colonel says he's had a good run.

"I've had a good life," the Colonel says. "And it's great we've got a good country. We want to keep it that way....or better. Make it better if we can."

Colonel Cooper says he tried to reenlist when Desert Storm came around but was told it was time for him to give some of the young men and women a shot to fight for their country.

The retired colonel served almost 40 years, retiring on April 1, 1980.