Meriana C. Coopera street



Meriana C. Coopera street

He began his adventure with aviation from enrolling in a flight school in New York, from where he graduated in 1917. That same year, he entered the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) which was sent to war-torn Europe. He was shot down in 1918 by the Germans during a flight over France. After the war, he remained in Europe where he became a member of the United States Food Administration, on behalf of which he came to Lviv with humanitarian assistance. In October 1919, Merian Cooper was appointed deputy squadron commander of MajorCedric E. Fauntleroy, commander of the Fighter Squadron 7, which took on the name of the 7th Tadeusz Kościuszko Fighter Squadron in December that year. Seven American pilots served in the squadron, which played a key role in the Polish-Bolshevik War. In July of 1920, Cooper’s aircraft was shot down by the Bolsheviks and the pilot was taken captive. After his first unsuccessful attempt to escape, he managed to flee from the camp with two other prisoners in his next attempt and, after crossing 700 km on foot, he came to Latvia, from where he went on to Poland. After arriving in Warsaw, he was promoted to lieutenant and in May 1921, in recognition of his military service, he was decorated by Marshall Józef Piłsudski with the Fifth Class Order of Virtuti Militari.

The emblem of the Fighter Squadron 7 commanded by Major Cedric Faunt-le-Roy and his deputy Merian C. Cooper, which refers back to the symbols of the Kościuszko Uprising (a Maciejówka cap, and crossed scythes) also contains thirteen stars symbolising the first 13 states in USA to be subsequently revived during the World War II thanks to the Fighter Squadron 303 of the Polish Air Force in the West. In October 2007, the very same emblem was taken into space aboard the American Discovery space shuttle on the STS-120 mission. In November 2008, the American NASA astronaut George Zamka, who was one of the seven-member crew, passed the plaque with the historic emblem on to the Museum of the Polish Army in Warsaw. During this mission, the space shuttle spanned the globe 238 times in 15 days, covering 6.2 million miles.

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