97-Year-Old veteran tackles bucket list

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 6:33 PM CST
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - JM Cope has just scratched off one bucket list item; riding in a hot air balloon. He finally hopped into a basket Friday during the Altus festival and now has just one bucket list item left.

He’s already had a lot of life experiences. At just nineteen years old he was drafted into World War II.

”I was an infantryman. We went overseas to the Philippine Islands, to Leyte, and then we went to Luzon, and that’s where we entered battle,” Cope said.

Cope had just lobbed a grenade when he took a bullet to the side.

”Had it been just a little bit closer and hit a bone, I’d have dropped the grenade and I wouldn’t be here today,” Cope said.

Cope would then serve in Japan before leaving the military less than two years later. He still wasn’t old enough to buy a beer when he became a Purple Heart recipient. When he came back home, he went back to doing what he was doing before he’d left; working at a dry cleaners for his uncle.

”After twenty one years, I bought my own place in Snyder, Oklahoma and operated a cleaners there for forty years,” Cope said.

In two-thousand eight, Cope won the award for Most Youthful Citizen in Frederick, despite not even knowing he had been nominated by the chamber of commerce.

”I didn’t know about it until they had the chamber of commerce meeting, and I didn’t belong to the chamber of commerce,” Cope said.

He was nominated for doing his favorite life experience so far, being Santa Claus in different areas of Southwest Oklahoma for thirty years.

But after all this time, he still wants to do one more thing.

”Go on a sailboat and I doubt that I’m going to make that sailboat. Well, there’s just not that many sailboats around here,” Cope said.