Brig. Gen. Roy E. 'Bud' Cooper
Bud Cooper is best known for being a founding father and the first General Officer of the Wyoming Air National Guard as well as the driving force behind critical airport improvements at Casper and Cheyenne. His career in Wyoming aviation has spanned over 62 years.
Born in Idaho in 1923, Cooper came to Wyoming in 1941 and learned to fly the following year. As a P-51 Mustang fighter pilot in Europe, he flew 200 combat hours earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and seven Air Medals. Returning to Wyoming after the war, Bud became a leading proponent of organizing a nationwide Air National Guard using surplus aircraft. He was one of five young but experienced officers who organized the Wyoming Air National Guard, standing up the 187th Fighter Squadron in 1946 with F-5 l s.
When the Casper Army Airfield and Split Rock Gunnery Range were scheduled for closure and demolition in 1948, Cooper recognized their value to the Air Guard and Wyoming civil aviation. He convinced military and government officials that these critical assets should be kept open. Four years later the Army Airfield became the Natrona County Airport. When the Wyoming Air Guard transitioned to F-80 and F-86 jet aircraft in the 1950s, Bud led the push for runway extensions at the Cheyenne Airport that also allowed commercial jet service into the airport.
Cooper was promoted to Brigadier General in 1961, becoming the Wyoming Air National Guard 's first General Officer. Bud 's foresight in the 1960s led to the Wyoming Air Guard 's conversion to the airlift mission, initially using the C-119 Boxcar, the C-121 Connie, and finally today's C-130 Hercules.