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John R. Cooper, Jr. '64

        (Note: I was notified of this by Michael Wilgus.  Michael didn't attend Dreux, but his father was stationed at Evreux AFB and John Cooper was a good friend of Michael's. He told me about what happened to John in 1968 and I found this on the US Coast Guard website.  It tells the story of what happened.)


White Alder was stationed throughout her Coast Guard career, which spanned 1947 until 1968, at New Orleans, Louisiana.  Her primary assignment was to tend river aids to navigation although she was called upon to conduct other traditional Coast Guard duties, such as search and rescue or law enforcement duties, as required.  In mid-November 1965 she escorted raised barge carrying chlorine to a chemical plant and on 4 December 1968 she refloated cutter Loganberry, which had been beached on 3 December.

At approximately 1829 C.S.T. on 7 December 1968,  the "downbound" White Alder collided with the "upbound" M/V Helena, a 455-foot Taiwanese freighter in the Mississippi River at mile 195.3 above Head of Passes near White Castle, Louisiana and sank in 75-feet of water.   Three of the crew of twenty were rescued, the other seventeen perished.  Divers recovered the bodies of three of the crewmen but river sediment buried the cutter so quickly that continued recovery and salvage operations proved impractical. The Coast Guard decided to leave the remaining 14 crewmen entombed in the sunken cutter which to this day remains buried in the bottom of the Mississippi River.

The Coast Guard dedicated a memorial, at the Coast Guard base in New Orleans, to the White Alder and her crew on 7 December 1969.  The memorial was moved to the new Coast Guard Group New Orleans offices in Metairie, Louisiana, and rededicated on 6 December 2002.


Seaman Apprentice Walter P. Abbott, III

Electrician's Mate, second class Michael R. Agnew

Seaman Frank P. Campisano, III

Fireman Maurice Cason

Quartermaster, second class John R. Cooper, Jr.

Seaman Richard W. Duncan

Seaman Apprentice Larry V. Fregia

Seaman Apprentice Ramon J. Gutierrez

Seaman Roger R. Jacks

Seaman Steven D. Lundquist

Yeoman, second class Joseph A. R. Morin

Commissaryman, second class Charles R. Morrison

Engineman, third class Walton E. O'Quinn, Jr.

Engineman, first class John B. Rollinson

Chief Engineman [ENCP] William J. Vitt

Boatswain's Mate, third class Guy T. Wood

Chief Warrant Officer [BOSN] Samuel C. Brown, Jr.


Fireman Bruce L. Kopowski

Boatswain's Mate, second class Richard (n) Kraus

Seaman Apprentice Lawrence E. Miller


Chief Boatswain's Mate [BMCP] Richard F. Batista was ashore on authorized leave at the time of the collision.