Faye Hooper, Lawrence native and widow of Audie Murphy award winner, dies at age 80

Faye Hooper

Faye Saint Hooper, a Lawrence County native and widow of the most decorated soldier of the Vietnam War, died Monday in Denver. She was 80.

Hooper was born in Courtland and graduated from the old Hazlewood High in Town Creek. Her death was confirmed by her friend Joan McCollum of Decatur.

Hooper moved from Decatur to Aurora, Colorado, about 2½ years ago to be near her daughter, Joey, according to McCollum.

"She was from this area, and so much a part of Decatur," McCollum said. "She had businesses here, and so many people knew her. And she attended church here (at Beltline Church of Christ)."

Hooper's husband Joe Ronnie Hooper, who died in 1979 at the age of 40, was the recipient of the 2008 Audie Murphy Patriotism Award at Decatur's Spirit of America Festival. He previously had received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor for actions taken Feb. 21, 1968, during a battle known as the Tet offensive. 

As a squad leader of the 101st Airborne’s Delta Raiders, Hooper led a charge across a stream into heavy enemy fire. He pulled two wounded soldiers to safety and was wounded in the process.

He then took on the enemy single-handedly to protect another wounded soldier pinned down by enemy fire.

Continuing on, Hooper took out the enemy in three bunkers and then returned to his unit. He spurred them on to continue the attack that eliminated three more bunkers, even while Hooper stopped to bandage a wounded chaplain.

During the remaining part of the attack, Hooper eliminated the enemy in five buildings and several more sets of bunkers, sometimes by himself.

Despite constant enemy fire, he stopped several times to help his wounded comrades and carry them to safety.

Hooper, 29 at the time, suffered seven wounds that day, but didn’t leave the battlefield until the next morning. He finally passed out from loss of blood.

The next day, worried about his men, he sneaked out of the field hospital, stole a rifle and returned to his outfit.

When the Army found him two days later, he had been wounded again.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, his decorations include two Silver Stars with Oak Leaf Clusters, six Bronze Stars with “V” Device and Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and eight Purple Hearts.

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