William Crosby Coogan was born in Massachusetts on December 5, 1893. All of us remember his winning smile and gracious ways which endeared him to us and how, throughout his Cadet days, he made life brighter for all with whom he came in contact. Early in his career his outstanding qualities of leadership were recognized, not only by his classmates but by the Tactical Department as well. Selected in the first group as a yearling corporal. Bill wore chevrons with distinction all through his student years, and seldom was a class activity undertaken where he did not play a prominent role.
Bill graduated above the middle of his class, yet he chose the Infantry hoping for combat service in World War I. When he failed to get his wish to serve on the battle fields of Europe, he managed to get orders for Siberia and saw active service there with the 27th Infantry, after which he was ordered to Europe in charge of repatriation of prisoners of war. Returning to the United States, Bill found himself assigned to recruiting duty and, like so many of his classmates, resigned to enter business which, at that time, seemed to offer more of a challenge than the prosaic life of a lieutenant in a peacetime army. In civil life, Bill pursued a successful career as a real estate broker and as manager of construction for a New York firm of architect-engineers, with an interlude of service on the staff of the Governor of New York.
After 1928, information concerning Bill’s activities is meager and efforts to locate him in later years were unavailing. For a time he was lost to the class, and perhaps the reason can be found in a letter which he wrote in 1947 and which was made available to us only after his death. He wrote, ”1 have known of very few officers who, having made the decision to leave the regular army, ever wanted to get back in it. Such was not the case with me. Within two or three years of my resignation I was avoiding my classmates because all they did was ‘talk shop’ and it made me so homesick that I began to wonder if I had not made a mistake.”
Bill Coogan truly loved the Service. During World War II he was offered a commission as Captain in the Army Air Corps Reserve. A Captain’s rank at the age of 48 years doesn’t seem a great inducement, yet Bill placed duty and patriotism first and accepted the appointment. That he did an outstanding job for his Country and his Service is evidenced by the glowing letters of commendation which he received and by his promotions, always as an exception to policy, which followed steadily along to include the grade of Colonel. The Air Corps had found its man. Whenever there were difficulties in training or administration of a base, Bill was placed on an airplane and sent to the trouble spot with the kind of orders which he loved: “Go down and straighten that mess out.” And he did just that. As the end of his active service approached, Bill was still trying for reappointment in the Regular Army, but his age and the inflexibility of the law governing reappointments precluded his reinstatement. His awards attest the value of his services. They include the French Croix de Guerre, the New York State Conspicious Service Cross, and three awards of the Army Commendation Ribbon.
As far as is known, Bill had no living relatives, but it is comforting to know of the love and esteem in which he was held by the family of Dr. and Mrs. F. I. Milloy of Phoenix, Arizona. Not only was he treated as a member of their family where he was affectionately known as “Uncle Bill,” but his health was watched over and his life undoubtedly prolonged through the services of Dr. Milloy, (since deceased).
It is a sad turn of fate that we could locate Bill only after his death. He now has joined “The Army of the Bles’t,” but those of us who survive him are the richer for having known him. We cherish his memory and the inspiration he bequeathed us in his unselfish life, in his devotion to duty, and in his loyalty to his Alma Mater.
William Crosby Coogan died at Phoenix, Arizona on April 24th, 1956 and is buried in the Military Plot of the local cemetery.