Sean Michael Cooley, born April 18, 1969 to Jerry & Kathryn Cooley, grew up in Benndale, Mississippi. A graduate of George County High school, class of ’88, Sean continued his education at the Perkinston campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC), until a desire to serve his country arose and he enlisted in the US Naval Reserves, in January of 1991. While Sean was stationed at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport for some time, he went back to school, this time at the Jackson County campus of MGCCC. In December of 1996, Cooley earned his Associates in Nursing and a short time after; he also made a military career change, opting to join the US Army National Guard unit in Lucedale.
In Sean’s civilian life, he was described as an amazing nurse-hardworking, intelligent, and most of all, he had a natural charisma that made others feel comfortable around him. Cooley worked full time at Singing River Hospital in the Emergency Room as well as on call for George County and Ocean Springs Hospitals. It was at Singing River Hospital where Sean met his wife, Laura, also a nurse. It was evident to Laura that Sean was caring person and always willing to help people, and eventually they were wed on October 18, 2003.
Despite Sean’s affinity to the medical field, he continued to serve his military career as a combat engineer. Sean once said that he loved the people he worked with and knew that if anything were to ever happen, he would be there able to help them in the field. Cooley was a Platoon Sergeant, and his unit was a family, some men thinking of Sean as an older brother. Sean was very kind to his men, making sure that everyone always had what they needed and that everyone ate and got their leave.
While on deployment during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Cooley became the Platoon Sergeant of the FOB Dogwood unit. Douglas Mansfield, son of the curator of the GI Museum, was also part of this unit under Sean Cooley. Douglas was on patrol with Sean when they drove over an IED. In the road side explosion several men were injured, but in the blast Cooley had been mortally wounded and died in Iraq that day.