Ex-POW John M. Cook Jr.
Army Serial Number:
Of San Bruno, California. Died May 31, 2003 at age 82. John was featured in five documentaries* for his experiences as a POW in the Philippines during WWII. He would readily lecture about his many graphic memories to organizations and youth wanting to learn a piece of this history. Leaving the town of New Braunsfel, TX, he joined the Army and was trained in the Medical Corp. He was soon sent to the Philippines only to be interned in a prison camp for 34 months, captured by the Japanese, who showed no mercy. The US Army Alamo Scouts, Rangers, and Filipino Guerrillas liberated 513 prisoners from Cabanatuan, Philippines, on January 31, 1945.
John's devotion and honor to his liberators was repaid with a plaque he presented to his heroes at Fort Benning, GA, on August 11, 2000, at the Ranger Hall of Fame. Hampton Sides, author of the book "Ghost Soldiers", gathered much of his research information from John's iron-clad memories and treasured documents of the rescue of the POW's. A memorable man with a heart as big as his stature, he will be missed by his loving wife of 30 years, Theresa Alchera Cook, who said, "Love like this comes once in a lifetime."
John Cook was so grateful for his Ranger rescue, he was solely responsible for the 6th Bn monument outside RTB and the RHOF at Fort Benning, GA. When he first approached the Post, he was told "it couldn't be done." Later, after he contacted higher authority figures, the Post called him and discussed the details of the monument, the timing for the dedication, and the planning of an appropriate program. Like a Ranger, he wouldn't accept "It can't be done!" John paid for the monument in its entirety, with his own money. A true, proud, hero, gone but never forgotten.
* Documentaries: "History Undercover - Rescue of Bataan Ghost Soldiers," History Channel; "Ghost Soldiers," Evening Magazine; "Alamo Scouts WWII," History's Mysteries," "War Stories with Oliver North", Fox News; "Jessica Lynch Rescue Story," ABC for Biography Channel; "American Experience Bataan Rescue" featured July 7, 2003 on PBS.