Name: Bradley Cooper
Andrews University 2013-2015, United States Navy
Interviewed by: Rachel Arner
You attended Andrews University, right? What did you study?
Yes, I attended Andrews University not too long ago. For two years from fall semester 2013 to spring 2015. I changed my degree multiple times from aviation to computer science to finally ending up choosing history. I loved the professors in the history and political science departments, they made me feel at home and pushed my learning limits.
Why did you pick the service branch you joined?
My father always watched the movies like Top Gun and Hunt for the Red October at least twice a month when I was growing up so the influence of life on the water had an impact in my decision to join the Navy. The uniforms and tradition are unmatched (mostly biased) by any other branch. While I didn’t get into becoming a Naval Aviator like in Top Gun, just being able to see some of those aircraft and joining in on those traditions was awe-inspiring.
How long have you been serving?
About a year and a half.
What were your first days of service like?
I’m sure you hear stories and seen movies of boot camp and have an idea of what it’s like in your head. I know I did. Being able to finish boot camp was a big morale booster and finally being able to be called a Sailor was huge. It was very tiresome after that though, having to wake up at 1 a.m. to stand a watch while everyone else sleeps away is tough, but it’s what we signed up for, so no complaints here. Being able to wear my uniform is what makes me proud. Prideful is how I would describe my first days of service.
What did it feel like?
Over time it turns more into a job, but that is where you separate the great and the good. Those who can wake up every morning to reveille and have that mentality are the ones who become the greatest sailors. I try to be like them, but it can be difficult. Having a good support system and family plays a huge part into how you perform your work, and luckily I have a pretty good one.
Tell me about your boot camp/training experience.
Boot camp was a very eye-opening experience. The sights, smells,and friends will be engraved into my brain forever. Having to stand still for hours on end was the hardest part, besides getting ITE (intensive training exercise) which is basically letting your RDC (equivalent to drill instructors) have free reign over your punishment. Luckily I became the mail division petty officer so people looked to me for hope and joy when receiving letters. Unfortunately I did give away some Dear John letters to a couple of my shipmates. (It was) overall a hectic time but one with structure and always something to do—never a dull moment for better or worse.
Have you travelled anywhere thus far?
As of today, I have not traveled besides my training station at Great Lakes, Illinois. I’m sure many of Andrews Students have gone to Chicago and seen a couple of sailors. The sailors there have not completed their job training so they are undergoing their training after graduating boot camp. And if you haven’t seen any sailors, just go to Navy Pier at Chicago on a weekend and you will eventually see some sailor in their peanut butter uniforms or dress blues. Back to myself, however, I do have an upcoming deployment looming on the horizon to the coast of Africa; while frightening to some others, I look forward to the challenge and opportunity of traveling the world with some of my new-found family members. And just like a family we look out for each other, not branch specific either—every service member is a family member to me.
As we celebrate Veterans Day, what you would say we should do to support our veterans and those currently in service?
A simple “thank you for your service” is kind and can often brighten the day of a military member, but when someone goes above and beyond that it can be huge to them. Just acting kind to their family members and trying to strike up a conversation with them goes beyond a simple thank you. So, just try and treat a veteran with the respect they might not think is there anymore. I know when the younger generation says something it is such a touching display of patriotism, I just hope the military (myself included) can set a good example for them.