Ed was born in Brooklyn, NY on 2 June 1919 to Martino and Anna Coppola. He met the love of his life during his high school years and was happily married to Gloria, raising four children together, until her death in 2011. The friendships he made – from his early years in New York, during the course of his 31 years of military service to his country, and in his retirement - endured for a lifetime.
Ed completed three years of college at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute before entering the United States Navy’s V-5 Program in November of 1941. He was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Naval Reserve, and received his Navy wings on 25 June 1942. He was immediately assigned to operational Fighter Squadrons THREE and ELEVEN which deployed to Guadalcanal for combat tours. On his return to the United States, Ed was reassigned to Fighter Squadron FOURTEEN embarked in USS WASP, and completed another combat tour with the Third and Fifth Fleets in Southwest PAC in July 1943. On return to the United States, he was assigned fighter pilot instructor duties in the Naval Air Training Command until June 1946, when he was augmented into the Regular Navy as a Lieutenant. In June 1947, Captain Coppola was ordered to USS LEYTE (CV-32) as Combat Information Center Officer deploying to the Mediterranean as part of Sixth Fleet. Assignment for two years as Operations Officer and then Executive Officer in Fighter Squadron THIRTY TWO came in 1948.
Captain Coppola attended the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, during 1952 and then returned to his native Brooklyn in October 1953 for a tour of duty at the U.S. Naval Air Station, New York and on the staff of Commander Eastern Sea Frontier. Captain Coppola’s next assignment was to command of Attack Squadron EIGHT FIVE in February 1958. The following year, he was ordered to the Pacific Projects Division, Operational Test and Evaluation Force as Assistant Officer in Charge until June 1961. An assignment to Washington, DC in the Research and Development Division, Bureau of Naval Weapons followed. In December 1962, Captain Coppola was assigned as Chief of the Research Branch in Project Cloud Gap, a joint venture of the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. In January 1966, Captain Coppola was ordered to duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations as Head of the Ocean Surveillance Branch in the Anti-Submarine Warfare and Ocean Surveillance Division. There, for his work as a team member in the successful search for the sunken U.S. Submarine Scorpion, Captain Coppola was awarded the Navy Legion of Merit.
Reporting to the U.S. Naval Station, Sangley Point in 1969 as Commanding Officer, Captain Coppola’s normal tour of duty was extended to facilitate base turnover to the Republic of the Philippines. He then reported to the Defense Supply Agency in July 1971 where he was assigned as Chief of the Engineering and Technical Management Division in the Quality Assurance Directorate of Contract Administration Services. Captain Coppola retired from this last duty station at DCAS on 30 June 1973.
Following retirement, Captain Coppola continued his education at Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University. He joined the Bechtel Corporation during the construction of the Washington metropolitan areas subway system as an inspector and office engineer for ten years, and then joined the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority as a Resident Engineer until his retirement in 1986. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, New York in 1997.
Captain Coppola’s military decorations include two Legion of Merit awards, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Distinguished Flying Cross; ten Air Medals were awarded for combat action during World War II during tours of duty at Guadalcanal and aboard the U.S. Aircraft Carrier WASP assigned to the Third and Fifth Fleets in the Western Pacific in 1943 and 1944.
In his spare time and in retirement, Ed was a voracious reader, handyman, and gardener. He never met a household design engineering problem he couldn’t solve. He would eat most of his cherry tomatoes before they ever got into the kitchen. He loved enhancing the landscape of his home with a glorious assortment of flowering trees, shrubs, and bulbs. The grounds and natural areas held beauty and color during every season. Ed and Gloria were avid travelers, whether exploring Europe, visiting family and friends across the United States, or attending annual squadron reunions around the country. Ed particularly enjoyed reconnecting with old squadron mates and forming new friendships with later generations of Naval Aviators. Ed and Gloria were gracious hosts, often entertaining friends and extended family at their beautiful home.
Ed is predeceased by his wife Gloria, son Joseph and daughter-in-law Joyce, parents Martino and Anna, brother Walter, and sisters Helen and Lydia. He is survived by his son Edward of Glouster, OH; his son Martin (Susan) of Mays Landing, NJ; and his daughter Barbara (Wayne Deal) of Wake Forest, NC; granddaughter Lucy (BJ) Sample, grandsons Christopher and Benjamin; great-grandchildren Joel, Erin, Paige, and Alex; great-great-granddaughter Alaiza Skye Talley; and his extended blended family – Sean and Carey Deal, their sons Grayson and Reece, and their daughter Simone; Kristen and Aubrey Cox, their daughter Raelynn, and their sons Hudson and Teyton; countless nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, grand-nephews, and friends.
The Coppola family is grateful for the companionship and support given by Ed’s friends through the years following the death of his beloved wife, and is especially indebted to Weston Burnett and Genevieve Swyers for their unfailing graciousness and presence in Ed’s life. The family also wishes to thank all the compassionate caregivers of Home Instead Annandale, and honors the memory of special companion Emily Lu.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Ed’s memory to the United States Navy Memorial, Vietnam Veterans of America, or to Transitions LifeCare, 250 Hospice Circle, Raleigh, NC 27607.
Ed will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on August 4, 2022, at 12:45 pm.
Arrangements by Clancy Strickland Wheeler Funeral Home and Cremation Service, Wake Forest, NC 27587