Born on July 24, 1828 as John Laver Mather Cooper in Co. Dublin Ireland. Upon arrival in the United States joined the United States Navy. He is one of only nineteen people who have received the Medal of Honor twice. The Medal of Honor is the highest award which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. It is given for valor in action against an enemy force, and is generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.
Cooper was a Coxswain, the man in charge of the rowing crew, and directing the speed and rhythm of the rowers. Cooper received his first award for service while on board the U.S.S. Brooklyn during action against rebel forts and gunboats. This was during the battle of Mobile Bay. His first citation read:
Cooper then went on to earn a second Medal of Honor for a selfless act of courage and bravery during the terrible accidental fire at Mobile. He proved himself to be a true hero and saved a man's life in the process.
John Laver Mather Cooper was laid to rest in Cypress Hills National Cemetery, Section 2, Grave no. 7410, in Brooklyn, New York.