MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A former U.S. Marine was killed on the battlefield in Ukraine last month while helping evacuate people stuck in a deadly battle against Russia.
News 5 spoke to his mom, Willow Andrews, who moved here around 2019 after her husband passed away. Now, she and her family are mourning the death of her son, Cooper Andrews.
“Cooper was someone who looked at things in the community and said, I’m an able-bodied person,” said Andrews. “I should be doing something about that.”
Cooper served in the Marine Corps for four years until January 2022.
After his time in the military, he became a volunteer firefighter in Texas, then signed a contract with a group called Foreign Legion in Ukraine formed by people dedicated to fighting against Russia.
In November, he left his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio on a venture to help the people of Ukraine where he later worked for a group known as the Resistance Committee.
Willow said she was always fearful for her son going to Ukraine but still she supported him.
“I really had to think if like Cooper was just becoming like a thrill seeker,” said Willow. “We sat down and we discussed how he felt that we owed it and for the United States to actually help out Ukraine under the circumstances.”
Five months after Cooper left the US, came Willow’s worse nightmare, getting the call that her son had been killed.
“I’ve been waiting for this call for a while now,” said Willow. “I answered and said is everything okay? And they said no. And I said, Cooper. And they said yes.”
She told News 5 she learned Russian forces invaded the small city of Bakhmut when Cooper was killed on April 19.
Even though, she hoped she’d never have to get this call, in the back of her mind, she had a feeling.
“The day that Cooper left I told myself, you may never hear from or see him again,” said Willow. “But what do you do in that situation? Do you say, no, you can’t do what you believe in? No, because I’m afraid for you.”
Willow says there’s a lot of uncertainty of when Cooper’s body will be returned to the states but one thing we know for sure is that he left this world fighting for those who needed it the most.
“Anything that Cooper could get his hands on, he would find a way to get it to people who need it,” said Willow.
A memorial service will be held for Cooper on May 20 in Cleveland. Cooper will be laid to rest next to his late father.
To keep Coopers legacy alive, his mother Willow, has started raising money to donate to the groups Cooper would volunteer with. Click here for more information.