“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Brooklyn in Kings County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Donald Cook Square

Donald Cook Square Marker image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, October 25, 2015
1. Donald Cook Square Marker
Inscription.  Colonel Donald Cook Square
.191 acre

This square honors Colonel Donald Gilbert Cook (1934-1967) who served with the Marine Corps in Vietnam and died there while being held as a prisoner of War. Colonel Cook graduated from St. Francis Xavier High School where he excelled at football, earning the name “Bayridge Bomber.” Several years later he graduated from St. Michael’s College in Vermont. There he enrolled in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), but dropped out after meeting his future wife, Laurette. In 1957, Cook joined the marine Corps and trained in Quantico, Virginia. He also graduated at the top of his class in Army Intelligence School. Spending three years with the First Marine Aircraft Wing in Hawaii, Cook was reassigned on December 11, 1964 to the Communications Company, Headquarters Battalion, Third Marine Division in Okinawa. He volunteered for duty in Vietnam with the Vietnamese Marines. He was wounded and captured at the Battle of Binh Gia, in a French rubber plantation, on December 31, 1964. He was serving as an observer with the 4th Battalion, the Killer Sharks, which was destroyed by a
Donald G. Cook Medal of Honor Grave Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, July 1, 1999
2. Donald G. Cook Medal of Honor Grave Marker
He has a cenotaph marker in Arlington National Cemetery in Section M1, Site 110. The GPS coordinates are N38.8742 W77.0735. His Medal of Honor information and citation is: *COOK, DONALD GILBERT • Rank and Organization: Colonel, United States Marine Corps, Prisoner of War by the Viet Cong in the Republic of Vietnam • Place and Date: Vietnam, 31 December 1964 to 8 December, 1967 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 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.
Viet Cong regiment.

Throughout his time as a prisoner of War, Colonel Cook rigidly abided by military procedures and the Code of Conduct. Refusing to provide the enemy with information regarding U.S. Armed Forces, he received less food from his captors and was often placed in solitary confinement. Although his means were limited, Cook gave most of his food and medicine to other prisoners whom he felt were more in need.

Colonel Cook remained in this first camp from the time of his capture until May 1965. The second camp, where he was moved to, remained operative until October 28, 1966 when the enemy moved the camp further into the dense jungle. On this two-week hike, Captain Cook contracted malaria. Once settled in the new camp, his malaria symptoms subsided, and Cook willingly took on the workload of those sicker than he was. Colonel Cook rallied the spirits of the men in his camp, and did everything he could to stay fit in his cell. Cook also provided physical therapy to fellow prisoners by administering heart massages, moving limbs, and making sure their breathing was unobstructed. Although he refused to succumb to his illness, a march to another P.O.W. camp proved fatal for Cook. Weakened by a resurgence of malaria, Colonel Cook was last seen in November 1967. he was reported dead by the Viet Cong on December 8, 1967.

On February 26, 1980, Cook was
Donald Cook Square image. Click for full size.
By Larry Gertner, October 25, 2015
3. Donald Cook Square
officially declared dead and a memorial tombstone in his honor was placed in Arlington National Cemetery. President Jimmy Carter (b. 1924) posthumously awarded him the Congressional Medal of Honor and increased his rank from Captain to Colonel in recognition of his refusal to break the United States Code of Conduct for Prisoners of War, and the outstanding sacrifice he demonstrated towards his fellow prisoners. The Navy christened the U.S.S. Donald Cook (DDG 75) Aegis Guided Missile Destroyer on May 3, 1996, ay Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia.

Colonel Donald Cook Square, a Greenstreets traffic median located directly south of historic Greenwood Cemetery, forms the intersection of Ft. Hamilton Parkway and MacDonald and Caton Avenues. Greenstreets is a collaboration between Parks and the NYC Department of Transportation which serves to transform paved street properties into green spaces. parks made the improvements to this busy traffic triangle in 1997. A memorial plaza was added on Veterans Day in 2011 (11-11-11) by volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 237 with a flagpole donated by neighbors grateful to Colonel Cook’s service.

The landscaped area contains several woody plants or shrubs, including dwarf red barberry (Berberis thunbergil), burning bush (Euonymus alata ‘compacta’), bridal wreath (Spirea vanhoutte), and linden viburnum (Vibernum dilatatum).
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The trees in the area include both silver linden (Tilia tomentosa) and willow oak (Quercus phellos).

City of New York Parks & Recreation
Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor
Veronica M. White, Commissioner
October 2011
Erected 2011 by City of New York Parks & Recreation.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Medal of Honor Recipients marker series.
Location. 40° 38.843′ N, 73° 58.843′ W. Marker is in Brooklyn, New York, in Kings County. Marker is at the intersection of Fort Hamilton Parkway and MacDonald Avenue on Fort Hamilton Parkway. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Brooklyn NY 11218, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish WWII Memorial (approx. ¼ mile away); Henry Bergh-Monument (approx. 0.4 miles away); Our Drummer Boy (approx. 0.6 miles away); "Civic Virtue" (approx. 0.7 miles away); Samuel F. B. Morse (approx. ¾ mile away); Altar to Liberty (approx. 0.8 miles away); Civil War Soldiers’ Monument (approx. 0.8 miles away); Battle Hill (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Brooklyn.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.
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Parks & Recreational AreasWar, Vietnam

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Credits. This page was last revised on December 10, 2018. This page originally submitted on November 27, 2018, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. This page has been viewed 80 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on November 27, 2018, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.   2. submitted on November 28, 2018, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland.   3. submitted on November 27, 2018, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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