Joshua Cooper was born in Surrey, Virginia in 1906 and attended the United States Naval Academy in Annaplois, Maryland. He graduated in the class of 1927 and had achieved the rank of Commander by the outbreak of hostilities. He was the commanding officer of the USS Bennion from its commissioning on 14 December 1943 until late 1944. In February of 1945 he was awarded the Navy Cross for his service on the Bennion with the following citation:
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Captain [then Commander] Joshua Winfred Cooper, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the Destroyer U.S.S. Bennion (DD-662), in action against enemy Japanese forces at Surigao Strait during the Battle for Leyte Gulf in the Philippine Islands on the night of 24 - 25 October 1944. Participating in a night torpedo attack against an advancing column of enemy battleships, cruisers and destroyers, Captain Cooper directed his ship through intense and prolonged enemy gunfire to launch a well executed attack and succeeded in retiring without damage to his vessel. By his leadership and courage, he contributed to the decisive defeat of the hostile force and his devotion to duty was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.After his service on the USS Bennion, he was on the staff of Amphibious Group Nine, participating in numerous amphibious landings in the Philippine area. He later served with the Bureau of Ordnance and was the Commander of Destroyer Squadron Twelve in the Atlantic. During the Korean war, he was the commanding officer of the battleship USS Iowa. He retired from the Navy as a Rear Admiral in 1963 and died in 1998. Cooper is buried in the cemetery at the United States Naval Academy.