Spouse of USAMMA commander recognized for volunteer work at Fort Detrick

By C.J. LovelaceMay 21, 2024

Volunteer of the Year
Kimberly Cooper, wife of U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency Commander Col. Gary Cooper, was named one of Fort Detrick’s three Volunteers of the Year in a ceremony April 18. Cooper is pictured with Brig. Gen. Edward Bailey, left, commanding general of U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command and Fort Detrick, and Command Sgt. Maj. Kyle Brunell. (Photo Credit: Samuel Mensah/USAMRDC) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT DETRICK, Md. -- When Kimberly Cooper learned she would be returning to Fort Detrick with her husband’s latest assignment, she was excited to pick up where she left off.

“We were here at Fort Detrick before, probably about 15 years ago,” said Cooper, the wife of Col. Gary Cooper, commander of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency. “I was super excited to get back to the chapel again.”

Cooper has enjoyed volunteering and giving back on the Frederick installation, mostly with a group called the Protestant Women of the Chapel, or PWOC. The group supports numerous events for children and families during the year.

“It’s a group that’s on most military installations,” she said. “They have Bible study, worship, fellowship. And it’s a great way to meet women and it’s just a great way to learn about God with people who are like-minded.”

Volunteering through the PWOC, Cooper amassed over 325 hours during 2023, earning her recognition recently as one of Fort Detrick’s Volunteers of the Year.

Cooper said she was “very surprised” to receive an award.

“I’ve just always enjoyed volunteering,” she said. “After all my kids were out of the house, we became empty nesters and my husband travels a lot for work. This gave me an opportunity to be able to give back to the community because people did this for me when my kids were little.

“To be able to be out there with the kids and their parents and see how much fun they have, I really enjoy doing that,” Cooper said.

Also recognized by Fort Detrick’s senior installation command team during an April 18 ceremony were Space Force Tech. Sgt. Aaron Torrence as service member of the year and Army Civilian Lamar Reese.

In total, Fort Detrick has 133 active volunteers who contributed 11,829 hours in 2023. Leaders estimate that those volunteer hours equate to over $375,000 in savings to the installation’s programs.

“It’s very important we properly thank you and recognize our volunteers for their tremendous service to their community, because you do make a difference,” said Wilfred Plumley Jr., Fort Detrick deputy garrison commander.

Plumley said volunteerism in the Army dates back to its earliest days when volunteers would directly support Soldiers by caring for the sick and wounded.

“Today, volunteers are just as important but in different ways,” he said. “Many events simply couldn’t happen without our volunteers.”

Cooper served eight years in the Army before having a child and getting out in 1992, shortly after the Gulf War ended. Her post-military jobs, fittingly, involved working with volunteers in support of children and parents.

After getting married to Col. Cooper in 1997, she started to do more volunteer work when she went to Korea with her husband.

“I first started volunteering with the chapel, teaching Sunday school, and it just kind of grew from there,” Cooper said.

Cooper said she will miss the Frederick area when she and her husband move on to his next assignment later this year, although she looks forward to being closer to their three grandchildren.

“I do love it here and the people, especially here at the chapel,” she said. “It’s like a little family. It’s small, but we’re just like a little family.”