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First Name: Donald

Last Name: Cook

Birthplace: Brooklyn, NY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Gilbert

Date of Birth: 09 August 1934

Date of Death: 08 December 1967

Rank: Colonel

Years Served: 1956-1967
Donald Gilbert Cook

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Donald Gilbert Cook
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps
Medal of Honor Recipient
Vietnam War

Donald Gilbert Cook was a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps in the Vietnam War. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions while being held a Prisoner of War by the Viet Cong. He was also posthumously promoted from Captain to Colonel.

Cook was born on 9 August 1934 in Brooklyn, NY. 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 in Quantico, VA. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1957. He held a series of assignments in the Marine Corps and was sent to Vietnam in 1964, where 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 31 December 1964 until his death at age 33. He received a posthumous promotion from Captain to Colonel.

Medal of Honor

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 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.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart with Gold Star
Combat Action Ribbon
National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The name of Donald Gilbert Cook is inscribed on Panel 01E - Line 80.


The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) is named in his honor.

Colonel Donald G. Cook Chapter 5 Disabled American Veterans (DAV) of Burlington, VT, 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.

Death and Burial

Colonel Donald Gilbert Cook's body was never recovered. A memorial headstone for him can be found at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Memorial Section MI, Lot 110.

Honoree ID: 915   Created by: MHOH




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