05 Oct 2004 The U.S.: Worth Dying For
Those who read about the soldier profiled in Joe Roche’s “Death of a Patriot” letter posted yesterday might be interested in a couple of websites that memorialize the late Command Sergeant Major Eric Cooke.
In this photo, CSM Cooke receives donations for Iraqi kids sent by the Rotary Club. The caption states that he promised to distribute the supplies to Iraqi children, but also that he was killed in action two days after the photo was taken.
Here is a Stars and Stripes profile.
On this webpage, CSM Cooke’s mother writes, in part:
Years ago, right after Eric returned from Desert Storm, we were doing that thing we so often did – drink coffee, smoke cigarettes and talk the long night through. At one point I asked him what most motivated him when things got dicey, when bullets were flying. He considered the question for a moment. His eyes gathered moisture as he replied. “Maw, I believe The United States and her people are worth dying for.”
In a letter entered into the Congressional Record, it is said of CSM Cooke:
There seem to be so few heroes today. I wanted to tell you about one: Command Sergeant Major Eric Cooke of the First Armored Division. Command Sergeant Major Cooke died on Christmas Eve when a roadside bomb ripped into his Humvee north of Baghdad on a convoy to Samara. He was 43 years old.
Just before his death, Command Sergeant Major Cooke had written my uncle, David Hunter, that he had not signed up for the 2-week Christmas leave available to soldiers who were deployed to Iraq because he could not take the leave knowing that one of his men would not be receiving theirs. CSM Cooke said he was lucky to have a loving wife who would understand why he was not coming home for Christmas. He was career United States Army, and she understood his commitment.
On the day he died, Command Sergeant Major Cooke heard of an injured soldier who was in urgent need of O-positive blood, so he rushed to a nearby field hospital to donate his own. He almost missed that convoy going to Samara. Command Sergeant Major Cooke had the opportunity to have an armored Humvee, but he chose to give it to his men so they would be protected during armed escort duty, patrols and raid operations. His selfless service knew no limits.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for a photo of CSM Cooke’s gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery.
I did not know CSM Cooke during his lifetime, but I find him an inspiration now. I thank the Lord for our country has been blessed with men of his caliber.