Julian Cook

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For the U.S. judge, see Julian Abele Cook Jr..
Julian Aaron Cook
Julian Cook.jpg
Born (1916-10-07)October 7, 1916
Mount Holly, Vermont
Died June 19, 1990(1990-06-19) (aged 73)
Columbia, South Carolina
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 1940—1968
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Service number 0-23290
Unit 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Cross
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal (2)
Purple Heart (3)
Military William Order

Julian Aaron Cook (October 7, 1916 - June 19, 1990) was an officer in the United States army who gained fame for his crossing of the Waal river during Operation Market Garden.


Cook was born at Mount Holly, VT on October 7, 1916. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, and graduated as an officer in 1940. He volunteered for the 82nd Airborne Division in 1942, joining the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR).

Cook made combat jumps into Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio before beginning command of the 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment just prior to Operation Market Garden. The 504th PIR did not participate in the Normandy invasion.[1]

On September 17, 1944, Major Cook jumped into Holland near the Maas-Waal Canal. After assisting in securing the canal crossing, his unit marched to Nijmegen. General Gavin had ordered a crossing of the Waal River during daylight hours so the Americans could outflank the German defenders, who were dug in around the city’s crucial bridges. Cook was put in charge of the crossing, was in the first wave across the river. As Cook’s first wave began their crossing, the allied bombardment began. The wind blew away the smokescreen, leaving the men in the water open and visible to the German guns. As a devout Catholic, Cook loudly recited Hail Mary during the crossing, spurring his men on under the withering fire. He took charge of the boats, redirecting those who were disoriented and pushing the men along. Once ashore, the Parachute Infantry Regiment cleared the river bank and assaulted the highway bridge. The 3rd Battalion, 504th PIR finally captured the bridge at 1900 hours.[2][3][4] Cook was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.[5]

After Market Garden, Cook was promoted to lieutenant-colonel. Cook lead his battalion during the Ardennes Offensive in fights around Trois-Ponts, Cheneux[6] and Herresbach, and later on in the drive through Germany. At the end of the war he was promoted to colonel.

In 1953 Cook became American liaison officer to the French forces in French Indochina. There he became ill and spent eight months in hospitals.

He died at Columbia, SC on June 19, 1990.

Robert Redford portrayed Cook in the movie A Bridge Too Far.

Honours and awards[edit]

On October 8, 1945 by Royal Decree, Cook was knighted by Queen Wilhelmina, with the rank of Knight 4th class of the Military William Order. The Order is the highest and oldest honour of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which is bestowed for "performing excellent acts of Bravery, Leadership and Loyalty in battle".[7] It is an extremely prestigious award, comparable to the French Légion d’honneur or the American Medal of Honor, but far less frequently awarded.


  1. ^ Gavin, James (1978). On to Berlin. New York: Viking Press. p. 178. 
  2. ^ Gavin, James (1978). On to Berlin. New York: Viking Press. pp. 178–181. 
  3. ^ MacDonald, Charles (1963). The Siegfried Line Campaign. Washington: Office of the Chief of Military History. pp. 179–182. 
  4. ^ Ryan, Cornelius (1974). A Bridge Too Far. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 456–468. ISBN 0-671-21792-5. 
  5. ^ "Valor awards for Julian Aaron Cook". Military Times Hall of Valor. 2011. Retrieved October 22, 2011. 
  6. ^ Gavin, James (1978). On to Berlin. New York: Viking Press. pp. 224–225. 
  7. ^ Military order of William - Official website