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12-15-05, 04:58 PM
Long-time MCCS employee to retire
MCB Camp Pendleton
Story by Lance Cpl. Lanessa Arthur

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Ca. (Dec. 15, 2005) -- Hugh Cooper will retire Dec. 30 after 36 years of service with Marine Corps Community Services.

From a gas attendant to filling one of the highest-ranking civilian positions on Camp Pendleton (deputy assistant chief of staff of MCCS) Cooper has held many different jobs.

Though he doesn’t wear the uniform, Cooper is dedicated to helping the Marines on base.

“Hugh isn’t an outsider,” said Patricia V. Heath, marketing director for MCCS. “He’s a civilian Ma-rine.”

Hired in 1970, Cooper’s first job for the Marine Corps was filling the gas tanks on base. He took on the job as a way to help pay for college.

Cooper wasn’t destined to pump gas for long, though.

With hard work and determination, he quickly climbed the ladder to success.

After only a month of working as a gas attendant, Cooper was promoted to the lead man in the fuel department.

Four years later, he received a letter of appreciation for his outstanding professional service.

Heath has worked with Cooper for 21 years and said “he has a superior work ethic,” she said. “He effectively resolves problems, obtains full commitment and has a knack for pulling the (MCCS) organization together.”

His climb to the top, however, was far from being complete.

Cooper was promoted to service station foreman in 1975, was designated as the assistant safety officer a year later, and was promoted to assistant warehouse manager in 1977.

Just before Cooper hit his 10-year mark in 1979, he was promoted to manager of branch stores/merchandise coordinator.

“Under his leadership, Camp Pendleton MCCS has become the leader in services provided and diversity of programs. He will leave a great organization, and we will not let him down as we build upon what he as developed while we continue serving our patrons,” said Lee Farmer, director of Camp Pendleton’s MCCS.

Heath said Cooper is partly responsible for making MCCS the organization it is today.

Throughout his career, Cooper continued to get promoted and receive awards, to include a Meritorious Unit Commendation for support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Despite his many awards and promotions, he remains humble.

“The highlight of my career is getting to see this organization be what it is intended to be and support the mission of the Marine Corps,” he said.

Marine Corps Community Services is an organization that’s involved in every aspect on base. From the Commissary and gas stations to the triathlon runs, “MCCS has a hand in it,” Cooper said. “We’re an organization that touches more people on base day to day.”

Cooper said he gets satisfaction knowing MCCS is genuinely invested in improving the quality of life of Marines and their families.

“I think he stayed so long because he believes in MCCS and likes what it’s about,” said Heath.