White Sox honor Illinois grad for military service

Leon Cooper Leon Cooper, center, recently was honored at a Chicago White Sox game for his efforts to recover missing World War II soldiers. Former White Sox outfielder Harold Baines, right, presented Cooper with a personalized jersey. Also pictured is U.S. Navy Commander Elizabeth Zimmerman. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Chicago White Sox.)

The Chicago White Sox and a crowd of more than 28,000 home fans recently honored Leon Cooper, ’41 LAS, age 96, for his military service and his work advocating for the safe return of World War II soldiers’ bodies that remain scattered on Pacific islands more than 70 years after the war ended.

Cooper began his quest to clean the beaches of Tarawa in 2004. Tarawa is a small Pacific island that became the stage for a bloody battle in November 1943, when Cooper, then a naval ensign, and thousands of other U.S. service members fought Japanese soldiers in a battle that killed more than 6,000 Americans and Japanese.

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