Part of Highway 82 dedicated to Eupora Marine killed in action in Afghanistan in 2008

EUPORA, Miss. (WCBI) – Friday, on what would’ve been his 36th birthday, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3806 dedicated a portion of U.S. Highway 82 in honor of Marine Cpl. Justin Cooper of Eupora, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2008.

“I’d give anything in the world if he was standing here with you today instead of me,” his older brother Jason Cooper said.

It was 13 years ago that Marine Corporal Justin Cooper was killed in action during a firefight in Afghanistan. But Jason says it feels much longer than that.

“He was gone for roughly four or five years before in the military, in training or in Iraq or in Afghanistan and it seems like an eternity, just to be honest with you.”

The 22-year-old, known as “Coop” to his friends and family, served two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan as a scout sniper.

“He was always like my Superman,” Jason says. “Sad as that is, my little brother was (my hero). I didn’t think anything could ever stop him.”

The stretch of Highway 82 dedicated to Justin’s memory will start at the Montgomery-Webster County line and end at the Grady Road intersection.

“I don’t think they could have picked a better place in the world to put the Memorial Highway because we traveled it a lot,” Jason says. “It’s got a lot of memories on it and it’s close to my parents’ home.”

The effort to create the memorial was led by Webster County Justice Court Judge Rebecca Ellison.

“I just wish I could’ve gotten it done before his parents passed away,” she says. “Anyone who gives up their life for our freedom deserves this and more.”

During the ceremony, friends and family shared memories of Justin.

“We would like for people within the county and the nation to realize and celebrate these occasions,” says Larry Edwards, the senior vice commander of VFW Post 3806.

In honor of Justin’s birthday, Jason says he is going to celebrate the way his younger brother would have wanted.

“We’re going to drink a beer with him as soon as the sign goes in the ground,” he said. “We’re going to pour one out for him and we’re going to drink a beer with him.”

The Mississippi Department of Transportation finished installing both signs after the ceremony ended Friday afternoon.

Representative Joey Hood of the Mississippi House of Representatives and the Webster County Board of Supervisors were also part of the effort to create the memorial.

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