|Julian Aaron Cook|
October 7, 1916|
Mount Holly, Vermont
|Died||June 19, 1990
Columbia, South Carolina
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1940—1968|
|Unit||504th Parachute Infantry Regiment|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Distinguished Service Cross
Knight (4th class) of the Military William Order
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.
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. Cook was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
After Market Garden, Cook was promoted to lieutenant-colonel. Cook lead his battalion during the Ardennes Offensive in fights around Trois-Ponts, Cheneux 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.
Honours and awards
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". It is an extremely prestigious award, comparable to the French Légion d’honneur or the American Medal of Honor, but far less frequently awarded.
- Gavin, James (1978). On to Berlin. New York: Viking Press. p. 178.
- Gavin, James (1978). On to Berlin. New York: Viking Press. pp. 178–181.
- MacDonald, Charles (1963). The Siegfried Line Campaign. Washington: Office of the Chief of Military History. pp. 179–182.
- Ryan, Cornelius (1974). A Bridge Too Far. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 456–468. ISBN 0-671-21792-5.
- "Valor awards for Julian Aaron Cook". Military Times Hall of Valor. 2011. Retrieved October 22, 2011.
- Gavin, James (1978). On to Berlin. New York: Viking Press. pp. 224–225.
- Military order of William - Official website