Donald Cook (Medal of Honor)

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Donald Cook
Cook DG usmc.jpg
Birth nameDonald Gilbert Cook
Born(1934-08-09)August 9, 1934
Brooklyn, New York
DiedDecember 8, 1967(1967-12-08) (aged 33)
Republic of Vietnam
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service1956–1967
RankUS-O6 insignia.svg Colonel (posthumous)
Unit3rd Marine Division
Battles/warsVietnam War 
AwardsMedal of Honor ribbon.svg Medal of Honor
Purple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart (2)

Donald Gilbert Cook (August 9, 1934 – December 8, 1967) was a United States Marine Corps officer and a Medal of Honor recipient.


Donald Cook was born in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Xavier High School in New York City and St. Michael's College in Vermont. In 1956 he enlisted in the Marine Corps as a private but was quickly sent for officer training at the OCS in Quantico, Virginia. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1957. He held a series of assignments in the Marine Corps and was sent to Vietnam in late 1964, where he served as an advisor to the Vietnamese Marine Division until he was wounded and captured by the Viet Cong several weeks later. He was held as a prisoner of war by the Viet Cong in the Republic of Vietnam from December 31, 1964 until his death from malaria at age 33. He was posthumously promoted from Captain to Colonel.

Although his body was never recovered, his official memorial stone (cenotaph) can be found in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA, Memorial Section MI Lot 110.[1]


A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Medal of Honor
Purple Heart with one gold star Combat Action Ribbon National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Vietnam Service Medal Vietnam Campaign Medal

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Statue of Col. Cook on the campus of St. Michael's College in Colchester, Vermont
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 responsibility for their health, 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.


The United States Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) is named in his honor.[2]

Cook Hall at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, Presidio of Monterey, in Monterey, California, is named after Donald Cook, who graduated from the school's Chinese Mandarin course in May 1961. Cook Hall was dedicated in late 2014 and is the largest and most modern academic building of the DLIFLC campus.[3]

Colonel Donald G. Cook is honored with a 'Freedom Tree' on the Vermont State House lawn.[4]

Colonel Donald G. Cook Chapter 5 Disabled American Veterans (DAV) of Burlington, Vermont is named in his honor. Col. Donald G. Cook Chapter 5 DAV assists veterans in obtaining compensation for their service-connected disabilities, raises funds to support the DAV travel service for disabled veterans to the White River Junction, Vermont Veterans Hospital, and generally serves the needs of disabled Veterans in Burlington and the surrounding areas.

Saint Michael's College bestows the Colonel Donald G. Cook '56 Award to alumni for unselfish service to others. It is the College's most prestigious alumni award.[5]

The Colonel Donald G. Cook award is presented to a United States Marine Corps active duty (officer or enlisted) or Government Civilian intelligence professional to recognize professional excellence and exceptional dedication to duty in Marine Corps Intelligence. Annually presented, the award is sponsored by the National Military Intelligence Association (NMIA).[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Find a Grave, (maintainer). "Col Donald Gilbert Cook". Find a Grave. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  2. ^ "Colonel Donald G. Cook, USMC". USS Cook website. Archived from the original on March 6, 2009. Retrieved February 15, 2009. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "New Vt Freedom Tree". WCAX. Archived from the original on 2016-04-26. Retrieved 2016-04-14.
  5. ^ "Colonel Donald G. Cook '56 Award". Saint Michael's College. Archived from the original on June 8, 2011. Retrieved April 24, 2012.