Christopher John Cooney
December 4, 1943 - April 24, 2023
LT. Christopher John Cooney, 79, of Milton, FL passed away Monday, April 24, 2023.
Chris was born December 4, 1943, in Rochester, NY to James E. Cooney and Ann Marie McClintock Cooney. At the age of 3 the family moved to Crescent City, FL which he called home. He was a graduate of the Florida Military College, Deland, FL, Class of 1963, with an AA degree with major fields of study in Mathematics, History, and Chemistry. Upon graduation he enlisted in the United States Navy and was accepted into the Naval Aviation Cadet program at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Upon completion of training on April 5, 1966, he was Commission an Ensign, received his Wings of Gold, and was designated Naval Aviator, No. T-9768.
In May 1966, he deployed to Vietnam with HC-1, Det 29 operating from the USS Jennings County (LST-856), which included service with the III Marines Amphibious Force. As a member of the Navy’s first armed helicopter detachment, he helped develop the tactics which were successfully employed against the Viet Cong. He went on to serve with the Seawolves of Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron Three (HAL-3) which was an all-volunteer squadron the Navy formed in support of Naval Special Warfare operations and Mobile Riverine Forces during the Vietnam War. Missions included Search and Destroy, reconnaissance, medical evacuation, and SEAL Team insertion and extraction to name a few. He served four tours in Vietnam and in addition to flying rotary wing aircraft he was also qualified in several fixed wing aircraft, to include A4 and F9 jets.
His tours included time at NAS Pensacola, VT-1 NAS Saufley Field, HT-8 NAS Ellyson Field, HC-1 Naval Auxiliary Air Station Ream Field Imperial Beach, aboard the USS Harnett County (LST-821) and USS Comstock (LSD-19), VRF-31 NAS Norfolk, NAS Kingsville, aboard the USS Okinawa LPH-3, and VT-3, HT-8 NAS Whiting Field.
His awards and decorations include the Distinguish Flying Cross, Air Medal with Gold Star device and 28 Strike/Flight numeral, Navy Commendation medal w/ Combat “V” device and two gold star devices, Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Unit Commendation Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation w/ Bronze Star device, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon w/ Bronze Star device, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal w/ Bronze Star device, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Ribbon w/ 4 Bronze Stars, RVN Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm device and gold frame, RVN Civic Action Honor Unit Citation with Palm device and gold frame, RVN Campaign Ribbon, Navy Rifle Marksman Ribbon, and Navy Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon with E device.
After leaving the Navy he worked as an engineer for CSX railroad for 24 years. He was a proud life member of the Vietnam Vets MC, and 100% disabled veteran.
He is survived by his daughter, Christine Cooney Briggs (Raymond); grandson, Nathaniel Christopher Briggs; step-granddaughter, Breezie Briggs Seitz (Marc); step-great-grandchildren, Alexis, Lukas, and Mikenna; nephews, Geoff Ward and Mike Ward; his former wife, Sandra Ward; as well as his longtime friend, Helen Williams.
Funeral cortege will depart Harper-Morris Memorial Chapel at 1:00pm for a Graveside Service to begin at 1:30pm Thursday, May 11, 2023, at Barrancas National Cemetery, with Fr. John Licari officiating. Full military honors will be accorded by the US Navy.
Thursday, May 11, 2023 1:30 PM
Barrancas National Cemetery
1 Cemetery Road
Pensacola, FL 32508