Local Army Vet J.T. Cooper found himself in a street full of Somalis who wanted to kill him


*This story was originally published in the Tennessean Nov. 1, 2001

J.T. Cooper — part of Monday’s Nashville Storytellers about military service — uses his trauma to help fellow veterans deal with post-traumatic stress

The rocket-launched grenade exploded into his armored personnel carrier, and the driver’s body parts instantly flew back onto the Army infantrymen inside.

Disoriented, ears ringing, everything seemed to be in slow motion for 21-year-old J.T. Cooper, who, heart pounding, clutched his M-60 machine gun and looked around.


His lieutenant mouthed words at Cooper, who was closest to the door:

Get out!

Get OUT!

Cooper jerked down the handle, pushed the door and stepped into a street full of people who wanted to kill him.

The 1993 Battle of Mogadishu in Africa was one of the first times the soldier exchanged fire with an enemy. But the Tennessee farm boy has been a fighter for almost all of his life.

Cooper, now 45, fights for fellow veterans, using music to help them find healing from post-traumatic stress disorder. As part of that effort, he will tell his story Monday during The Tennessean’s Nashville Storytellers event in honor of Veterans’ Day

The story starts in Fentress County, an hour west of Knoxville.

Nashville Army veteran J.T. Cooper walks the grounds at the Nashville National Cemetery in Madison on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. Cooper served in the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993 and now helps veterans find healing through song.

Visit The Tennessean to Read Full Story: https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2017/11/01/nashville-army-vet-j-t-cooper-found-himself-street-full-somalis-who-wanted-kill-him/779503001/