DONALD GILBERT COOK, USMC
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Medal of Honor Citation
Colonel Donald Gilbert Cook, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in Vietnam while held prisoner by the Viet Cong from December 1964 to December 1967, was born 9 August 1934, in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from Xavier High School in June 1952, then attended St. Michael’s College in Winooski, Vermont, where he graduated in 1956.
Shortly after his December 1956 marriage to Miss Laurette A. Giroux at St. Anthony’s Church in Burlington, Vermont, Cook left Vermont for the Officers Candidate School at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia, and was commissioned a second lieutenant, 1 April 1957.
He was promoted to first lieutenant 1 October 1958 while stationed at Camp Pendleton, California. In 1960 he attended Army Language School in Monterey, California, studying Chinese and graduated near the top of his class. 1stLt Cook was assigned to Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, in 1961 and was promoted to captain 1 March 1962.
In 1964 the Cook family returned to Vermont when Capt Cook was transferred to Okinawa. In December 1964, he was sent to Vietnam where he was captured by the Viet Cong on 31 December 1964 while serving as an advisor with a Vietnamese Marine battalion.
Captain Cook was in the vicinity of Benh Gia, Phouc Tuy Province, Republic of Vietnam, while participating as a Marine advisor to the South Vietnamese, and went to the site of a helicopter crash with a South Vietnamese unit to check for survivors. When the Viet Cong surrounded the area, he was shot in the leg while attempting to assist members of his unit to safety, and was then captured. He continued to receive promotions while interned as a Prisoner of War and his personal valor and exceptional spirit of loyalty during his three years of captivity resulted in his posthumous award of the Medal of Honor.
Mrs. Laurette A. Cook, widow of Colonel Cook, received the Medal of Honor on behalf of her husband 16 May 1980 during ceremonies at the Hall of Heroes in the Pentagon. The Honorable Edward Hidalgo, Secretary of the Navy, presented the Medal to Mrs. Cook while Cook’s parents and four children looked on along with General Robert H. Barrow, Commandant of the Marine Corps
A list of Colonel Cook’s medals and decorations includes: the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart with one bronze star, the Combat Action Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.