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Fleet Week New York Marines join rededication of park named for sole Medal of Honor prisoner of war

By Lance Cpl. Martin Egnash | | May 29, 2012

New York City rededicated the Donald Cook Square to late Brooklyn native Col. Donald Cook, May 25.

Cook grew up in Brooklyn, where his childhood home was located within walking distance of the park.

He joined the Marine Corps in 1957. During the Vietnam War, Cook volunteered to lead a nine-manned reconnaissance mission to search for a downed helicopter. Cook was shot and captured during this mission.

Throughout his time as a prisoner of war, Cook refused to give information to his captors regarding the U.S. military. For this, he was given less food and often placed in solitary confinement. Even under such conditions, Cook gave most of his food away to other prisoners who he felt were in more need.

After contracting malaria twice, and volunteering for other prisoner’s workloads, Cook was reported dead by his Vietnamese captors. His body has never been recovered. 

For his actions while continuing to serve as a POW, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Cook remains the only Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor while he was a POW.
“Col. Donald Cook was an exceptional Marine,” said New York City Parks and Recreation Brooklyn chief of staff Martin Maher. “It’s our honor to recognize such a man as being one of us.”

Maher said the park was created last Veteran’s Day, but was lacking a proper ceremony.

“The people of Brooklyn wanted to show their respects to their local hero,” said Maher.

When selecting a date for the ceremony, they symbolically chose this Memorial Day because the sailors and Marines aboard the USS Donald Cook would be able to attend.

During the ceremony, various elected officials including city council members, the Brooklyn Borough president Marty Markowitz and disabled Vietnam veteran Ed Schloeman spoke regarding the conduct of Cook.

“Marines like Col. Cook, and the ones here with us today fight to keep others safe,” said Schloeman. “God bless the Marine Corps.”

At the end of the ceremony, the Quantico Marine Corps Band played taps as a tribute to the Brooklyn native, and then the military and elected officials cut the ribbon symbolically dedicating the park to Cook.

Read more: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/89034/fleet-week-new-york-marines-join-rededication-park-named-sole-medal-honor-pow#.T8TERp9YsyE#ixzz1wGMe0zgm