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COOK, DONALD GILBERT

Name: Donald Gilbert Cook

Rank/Branch: O3/US Marine Corps

Unit: COMMCO, 3rd Marine Division

Date of Birth: 09 August 1934 (Brooklyn NY)

Home City of Record: Essex Junction VT (also listed in some places as

Laurette NY, New York NY and Burlington VT)

Date of Loss: 31 December 1964

Country of Loss: South Vietnam

Loss Coordinates: 104517N 1073622E (YS850900)

Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War

Category: 1

Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground

Refno: 0050

Other Personnel In Incident: (none missing)

REMARKS: ON PRG DIC LIST 671208

Source: Compiled from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S.

Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families,

published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK in 1998.

SYNOPSIS: Donald Cook was an advisor to the 4th Battalion, Vietnamese Marine

Corps operating in the Delta when they engaged the enemy on New Year's Eve,

1964. Cook was wounded in the leg during the battle and subsequently captured

by the Viet Cong. Cook was then 30 years old.

During his years of captivity in camps north of Saigon, Cook set an example

difficult to emulate by his fellow POWs. He jeopardized his own health and

well-being by sharing his already meager supply of food and scarce medicines

with other prisoners who were more ill than he. According to one released POW,

Cook was so hard-nosed that he "would have stopped shitting if he had thought

Charlie was using it for fertilizer." Cook became nearly legendary in his

refusal to betray the Military Code of Conduct.

Air Force Colonel Norman Gaddis, upon his return from captivity, described the

impossible task of adhering to the Code of Conduct. Gaddis said that he did not

know anyone who had refused to cooperate with their captives after having been

tortured to do so, and those who had refused were "not with us today."

Cook refused to cooperate with his captors in any way. On one occasion, a

pistol was put to his head as a threat to cooperate. Cook calmly recited the

nomenclature of the parts of the pistol. He would give them nothing.

According to the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) list provided to

the U.S. in Paris in 1973, Donald Cook died of malaria in South Vietnam on

December 8, 1967 while being moved from one camp to another. The Vietnamese

provided this information to the U.S. in 1973, but have not yet "discovered"

the location of his remains. For his extraordinary actions during his

captivity, Donald Cook was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, and has

been promoted to the rank of Colonel. Alive or dead, Donald Cook is still a

prisoner of war.

Medal of Honor

COOK, DONALD GILBERT

Rank and organization: Colonel, United States Marine Corps. Prisoner of War

by the Viet Cong in the Republic of Vietnam

Place and date: Vietnam, 31 December, 1964 to 8 December, 1967

Entered service at: Brooklyn, New York

Born: 9 August 1934, Brooklyn, New York

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life

above and beyond the call of duty while interned as a Prisoner of War by the

Viet Cong in the Republic of Vietnam during the period 31 December 1964 to 8

December 1967. Despite the fact that by so doing he would bring about

harsher treatment for himself, Colonel (then Captain) Cook established

himself as the senior prisoner, even though in actuality he was not.

Repeatedly assuming more than his share of harsh treatment, Colonel Cook

willingly and unselfishly put the interests of his comrades before that of

his own well-being and, eventually, his life. Giving more needy men his

medicine and drug allowance while constantly nursing them, he risked

infection from contagious diseases while in a rapidly deteriorating state of

health. This unselfish and exemplary conduct, coupled with his refusal to

stray even the slightest from the Code of Conduct, earned him the deepest

respect from not only his fellow prisoners, but his captors as well. Rather

than negotiate for his own release or better treatment, he steadfastly

frustrated attempts by the Viet Cong to break his indomitable spirit, and

passed this same resolve on to the men whose well-being he so closely

associated himself. Knowing his refusals would prevent his release prior to

the end of the war, and also knowing his chances for prolonged survival

would be small in the event of continued refusal, he chose nevertheless to

adhere to a Code of Conduct far above that which could be expected. His

personal valor and exceptional spirit of loyalty in the face of almost

certain death reflected the highest credit upon Colonel Cook, the Marine

Corps. and the United States Naval Service.

 

Defense POW/MIA Weekly Update

February 26, 1999

NAVY COMMISSIONS SHIP TO HONOR POW

Aegis Guided Missile Destroyer Donald Cook (DDG 75) was commissioned in

December in Philadelphia.

Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, was the

ceremony's principal speaker. Laurette Cook, widow of the ship's namesake,

is the ship's sponsor. In the time-honored Navy tradition, Mrs. Cook gave

the order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"

The ship honors Col. Donald G. Cook, US Marine Corps (1934-1967), who was

posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry as a prisoner of war.

While assigned to the Communications Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd

Marine Division in Saigon, Republic of Vietnam, in Dec. 1964, Cook volunte

ered to conduct a search and recovery mission for a downed American

helicopter. Ambushed on arrival at the site, he was wounded in the leg and

captured.

Despite enduring deprivation, exposure, malnutrition and disease, Cook

committed himself to providing inspiration for his fellow prisoners to

endure and survive during his incarceration in a prison camp near the

Cambodian border. Resisting all

attempts to break his will, he never veered from the Code of Conduct. He

shared food, led daily exercises, provided first aid for injured prisoners

and distributed what meager quantities of medicine were available, often

surrendering his own rations and medicine to aid fellow prisoners whose

conditions were more serious than his own. Reports indicate Cook died in

captivity after he succumbed to malaria on Dec. 8, 1967.

Donald Cook is the 25th of 51 Arleigh Burke class destroyers currently

authorized by Congress. The destroyer carries Tomahawk cruise missiles, as

well as Standard missiles to intercept hostile aircraft and missiles at

extended ranges. Donald Cook is also equipped with the Phalanx Close-In

Weapons System and Harpoon anti-ship cruise missiles, which are fired from

stand-alone launchers.

Donald Cook is crewed by 25 officers and 350 enlisted personnel. The ship

was built at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, is 505 feet in length, has a

waterline beam of 66 feet and displaces approximately 8,580 tons when fully

loaded. Four gas-turbine engines power the ship to speeds in excess of 30

knots.