Hollis Kenneth “Bubber” Cooper was born April 8, 1920 in Limestone County, Alabama to Clarence Ray Cooper, a farmer, and Grace Beatrice (Whitaker) Cooper. Both of his parents were born in Alabama. Hollis had two older brothers, one older sister, two younger brothers, and one younger sister. By 1930 the family had relocated to a farm in New Hope, Madison County, Alabama.
Hollis enlisted in the US Army in May 1938 and initially served in the 8th Infantry Division and spent two years in the Panama Canal Zone. At some point he transferred to the 335th Infantry Regiment of the 84th Infantry Division, where he rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant. The 84th ID, known as the Railsplitters, was activated 15 October 1942 at Camp Howze, Texas. The division trained throughout 1943 and in September 1944 departed the States for England for combat in the European Theater.
After additional training in England, the 84th landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy 1-4 November 1944, five months after D-Day. From France, the unit moved quickly into the Netherlands in preparation for an offensive into Nazi Germany. The division entered combat 18 November 1944 with an attack on Geilenkirchen, Germany, as part of the larger offensive in the Roer Valley. After capturing Geilenkirchen on 19 November 1944, the 84th pushed forward to take Beeck and Lindern on 29 November 1944 in the face of heavy enemy resistance. After a short rest, the division returned to the fight, taking Wurm and Mullendorf by 18 December 1944.
In late December 1944 the 84th raced to Marche, Belgium to help stem the German winter offensive, known as the Battle of the Bulge, and were ordered to hold the advancing Germans south of the Hotton-Marche road at all cost. Battling in snow, sleet, and rain, the division threw off repeated German attacks, recaptured the town of Verdenne 24-28 December 1944 and took Beffe and Devantave, 4-6 January 1945. SSgt. Cooper was killed in action on 3 January 1945 and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star medal for his actions on 28 December 1944.
A short video of the 84th Infantry Division at the Battle of the Bulge can be accessed below.