Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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Vietnam War - U.S. Marine Corps

Donald Gilbert Cook

  • Rank: Colonel (rank at time of action: Captain)
  • Conflict/Era: Vietnam War
  • Unit/Command:
    Naval Advisor Group,
    U.S. Military Assistance Command
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Marine Corps
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: December 31, 1964 - December 8, 1967
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: in the vicinity of Binh Gia, Phouc Tuy Province, Republic of Vietnam

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 from 31 December 1964 to 8 December 1967. Despite the fact that by so doing he would bring about harsher treatment for himself, Col. (then Capt.) Cook established himself as the senior prisoner, even though in actuality he was not. Repeatedly assuming more than his share of the manual labor in order that the other Prisoners of War could improve the state of their health, Col. 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 with 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 Col. Cook, the Marine Corps, and the United States Naval Service.

Medal of Honor Recipient Donald G. Cook
Medal of Honor Recipient Donald G. Cook
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Brooklyn, Kings County, New York
  • Awarded Posthumously: Yes
  • Presentation Date & Details: May 16, 1980

    The Pentagon (Hall of Heroes), presented by Sec. of the Navy Edward Hidalgo to his family

  • Born: August 9, 1934, Brooklyn, Kings County, NY, United States
  • Died: December 8, 1967, Republic of Vietnam
  • Buried: Arlington National Cemetery ('In Memory' marker) (MH) (MI-110), Arlington, VA, United States
  • Location of Medal: National Museum of the US Marine Corps, Quantico, VA

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