Edward V. Coggins
After graduation from Wilson High School, Ed attended the Virginia Military Institute, having just completed his “rat” year when his alternate appointment status to West Point changed and he was offered admission. Ed survived a second rat year, this time as a plebe, and quickly earned a reputation as the cadet who loved to argue, no matter which side of any subject. As a plebe, Ed also developed his lifelong ability to fall asleep anywhere and anytime. His roommates would toss wads of papers, trying to make baskets in Ed’s mouth, as he snored, mouth open, in a chair propped against his room divider. At 18 years of age, the words “Duty, Honor, Country” made a deep and lasting impression on him; those words guided him as a cadet and throughout his entire life.
His Plebe year was also the year he met the love of his life, the former Joan Marie Hayes, and, thereafter, all West Point weekends were devoted to her. They married the day after his commissioning into the United States Air Force and following graduation.
His dream of flying became a reality when he completed pilot training in Hondo, TX, and then went on to “jets” at Webb Air Force Base in Big Springs, TX, completing advanced flying school in the F-84
Thunderjet and the F-100 Super Sabre. The “Cougar” (his call sign) was a fighter pilot for much of his 26 years in the Air Force, flying the F-100, the F-4, and the A-7. The Cougar completed two tours with 126 combat missions in Vietnam and commanded the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron from 1971 to 1973. He had the honor of being flight leader of the Missing Man Formation at President Harry Truman’s funeral in 1972. In the course of his career, he, Joan and their ever-growing family of five daughters made stops in Montgomery, AL; Phoenix, AZ; the Philippine Islands; Grove City, PA; Ramstein, Germany; Fort Walton Beach, FL; Tucson, AZ; Kansas City, MO; Kaiserslautern, Germany; and Omaha, NE.
While Ed loved being a fighter pilot off in the “wild blue yonder,” he never forgot his Army roots. His five girls, Denny, Kathy, Patti, Shari, and Laurie, grew up to serenades of “On Brave Old Army Team” and “Army Blue.” Army-Navy weekend was always the occasion to practice shouting “Go Army! Beat Navy!” wherever in the world the family was stationed.
The Cougar decided to retire as a colonel in 1979, and he and Joan moved to Fort Worth, TX In civilian life, Ed worked as a computer security and management consultant and as a professor of military history at the American Military University.
He authored two books: a history of fighter aviation, Wings That Stay On, and a biography of Civil War GEN George Thomas, Virginian in Blue. He also was a frequent contributor to the “Letters to the Editor” section of the Fort Worth Star- Telegram,forcefully presenting his opinions about anything remotely “liberal.”
The Cougar’s stories of West Point, and his passion for the concepts of Duty, Honor, Country, were part of who he was. He passed along that passion to his oldest living grandson, Thomas Edward Berry, Class of ’06. Ed and Joan were able to join Tom on the Plain that year, along with all of their children and grandchildren.
Coogie, as his grandchildren called him, loved and lived with passion. He loved his God, his wife, his children, his grandchildren, the Texas Rangers, the Dallas Cowboys, airplanes, cars, and a good book. The Cougar signed off on his last flight during the evening of 29 Feb 2008 and was buried at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery with full military honors.
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