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DDG 75 Donald Cook

USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) is the 25th ship in the ARLEIGH BURKE Class of Aegis guided missile destroyers. The U.S. Navy's most advanced and powerful ship, our mission is to provide Air Warfare (AW), Underwater Warfare (UW), Surface Warfare (SW) and Strike Warfare (SW) capabilities in defense of Carrier Battle Group Operations in the face of a multi-threat environment. We can also compliment and supplement carrier strike operations with our Air Control Warfare capabilities and operate as an element of a Surface Action Group (SAG).

On the 9th of January, 1998 Donald Cook successfully completed it's first milestone of nine, AEGIS Light Off (ALO). ALO is the commencement of our Combat Systems testing cycle and the first time power was applied to Donald Cook's advanced weapon systems. The ceremony was a huge success given the terrible weather (worst ice storm in 30 years) that Maine was experiencing at the time. Due to the outstanding support from BIW Shipyard management and personnel as well the AEGIS Test Team (ATT) our ALO was an enjoyable event for all. Attending the ceremony were; Vice Admiral Giffin (COMNAVSURFLANT) and Aids, The Donald Cook Family (from Vermont, New York, and Connecticut) and the sailors attached to PCU Donald Cook. Here is a quote from Irene Coleman (Donald Cook's sister) concerning the ship and the ALO ceremony, "The technology is awesome and a visit to the ship will always thrill us. You have a great group of men and women under your command, Captain."

Main Engine Light Off (MELO) was accomplished onboard DONALD COOK on April 4, 1998 and April 10, 1998. Assembled in Main Engine Room Number 2 from ship's company were GSMC (SW) John Brooks, MP Division LCPO, GSEC Darrell Spann Leading GSE, GSM1 (SW) Eric Frulla MP Division LPO and Main Propulsion Assistant, ENS Adkins Jinadu. The Chief Engineer, LT Robert Hall and GSCS (SW) Steven Carmack, the ships Leading GS observed the starts from the ships Central Control Station (CCS). Chief Brooks initiated the First main engine start of GTM 2A, with Chief Spann lighting off GTM 2B bringing the Engineering plant to life for the first time. GTM 1A and GTM 1B were started on 10 April 1998 by GSM1 Eric Frulla and GSM1 Scott Drew, the main space leading petty officers.

MELO is the third in a series of nine major milestones that chart the progress of the ship through the construction process to readiness for deployment. MELO represents the first application of power to all of the Main Engineering Plant systems equipment and begins a rigorous Engineering testing cycle that culminates in the ship's first underway trail, the combined Alpha/Bravo Trials.

USS DONALD COOK (DDG 75) successfully completed the combined Alpha/Bravo Trial the week of 29 June, 1998 off the coast of Maine. DONALD COOK is the newest Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer built by the General Dynamics Corporation in Bath, Maine and according to its Captain, CDR James F. McCarthy Jr., "there is no doubt that DONALD COOK will be ready to join the fleet after commissioning in December." "At times I felt as though we were like the Cubs chasing a pennant, but everything kept progressing steadily and it looks as though with Bravo's now complete and successful, DONALD COOK is on schedule and looking very good." CDR McCarthy also added, "It was important for us to not only see the capabilities of our ship for the first time, but the coming together of our crew in accomplishing this significant milestone."

The trial started with a weapons onload and transit to Portland on the 27th of June. Then we had an all hand fast cruise on the 28th which exercised our ability to find our spaces and run through some drills (man overboard, abandon ship, General Quarters). Bath Iron Works (BIW) provided us with a wonderful lunch and support for the day during the fast cruise. The entire day was ultimately a success with most of the crew getting to know the ship without the constant construction going on around us. Some of the crew then mustered back onboard at 0300 on the 29th for the actual Alpha/Bravo Trial. The ship got underway from Portland, Maine around 0400 and transited southeast into the Atlantic. We successfully completed numerous engineering events including; full power runs, maneuvering drills, damage control tests, and various equipment checks. At the same time, we successfully completed the combat systems tests required; gun firing, CIWS firing, SM-2 missile firing, and several link tests. Of particular note here is that the SM-2 missile firing event went so well that we even had an skin to skin hit on the drone. This really shows that our CS equipment is aligned and working together very well. Most of the BIW, ATT, and SUPSHIP personnel onboard agree that this Trial was "one of the best they have seen in a long time." BIW pulled the ship in a day earlier than scheduled due to weather and the off load of the remaining missile was completed.

The Trial was the first opportunity for DONALD COOK to show off the Navy's latest change to the Arleigh Burke class. DONALD COOK is the first ship in the Navy to sport a new CIWS design. However, at first glance, chances are you will not see the difference, or the CIWS for that matter. DONALD COOK is testing an incognito variant of the weapon that features, a light gray paint instead of the more target-friendly white version. DONALD COOK will collect temperature data on the gun for an extended period of time to ensure its safety before fleet-wide integration. Each CIWS rattled off 600 rounds during the trial without a flaw.

LCDR Steve Lott, Executive Officer in DONALD COOK, was quick to point out that there was still a lot of work to accomplish before leaving for Norfolk. "Having a successful Alpha/Bravo run is another big step towards being fleet ready, but there is definitely no time for complacency. It is going to be a challenging summer and fall, especially for those sailors whose families have remained in Virginia during our stay up in Maine." Also aboard for the trial were Tom and Chris Cook, sons of the late Colonel Donald Cook, the ship's namesake. Chris, a resident of Pinckney, MI helped bring the experience into perspective. "The progress since January's Aegis Light Off has been incredible. It is indeed a great looking ship." Tom added, "We did not realize the full impact of having a ship named after our dad until we heard his name announced on the bridge's radio. It was an overwhelming experience."

Upon returning to port on 15 July 98, it was immediately noticeable that DONALD COOK had once again successfully completed another milestone of nine in route to her commissioning in December. Flying from the mast were two brooms symbolizing that DONALD COOK had just successfully completed the second half of trials this summer. Charlie Trials, also known as Acceptance Trials, were indeed a "clean sweep" as once again DONALD COOK impressed all those onboard. The latest inspectors to ride aboard DDG 75 is INSURV, who left satisfied that DONALD COOK is well on her way to being fleet ready. INSURV spent an entire week inspecting engineering, combat systems, and operational functions on the ship. Unlike Bravo Trials, no ordnance was expended during Charlie Trials; however, the atmosphere was equally as intense because the completion of this latest evolution definitely signifies that DONALD COOK is closer to becoming a fully functional and operational warship and is headed for the home stretch. Several of the INSURV board specifically mentioned that, "DONALD COOK is one of the best ship's we have had the pleasure of inspecting, the ship is in wonderful shape and the crew is of a professional mold."

Further evidence supporting this significant milestone could be seen as DONALD COOK passed her old pier and moored to the staging pier in Bath, Maine, her last stop before commissioning. Here DONALD COOK will complete the final stages of construction in preparation for the August 28th crew move aboard date. Another significant milestone that commencing once moored is the rigorous task of space acceptance and material load. We have started to accept and transition spaces of the ship from BIW to the Navy custody in support of this space load out. This process will continue until crew move aboard where all spaces should be in navy custody.

DONALD COOK was commissioned on December 4, 1998 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The ship arrived in Philadelphia on November 30th and had a fun filled week. The weather was beautiful, it was a wonderful 64-69 degrees with plenty of sunshine the entire week, we could not have asked for anything better. As a matter of fact, on commissioning day it almost made it to a whopping 75 degrees. Shortly after we left Philadelphia the weather turned to it's normal self and forced everyone into their winter attire.

USS DONALD COOK (DDG 75) successfully completed her Pierside Restricted Availability (PRAV) and a Light Off Assessment (LOA) on July 13, 2001. The efforts of all DONALD COOK's Sailors, over a period of several months, made completion of both these demanding milestones a success. During PRAV, Sailors worked hard installing and training on new equipment and updating existing systems. Others worked on teams resurfacing decks and painting the ship. Everyone was impacted by the constant industrial activity and long hours.

LOA was conducted during the final week of PRAV with the assistance of the Afloat Training Group N43, the organization formerly known as Propulsion Examining Board. Although primarily concerned with engineering and damage control readiness, the support and assistance of all hands made this a success. The engineers demonstrated numerous material checks to verify the readiness of their equipment and demonstrate their ability to operate it safely. The teamwork and enthusiasm of DONALD COOK's Sailors once again ensured success.

Following PRAV and LOA, DONALD COOK returned to sea to conduct systems testing and training.

During August 2001, DONALD COOK participated in the Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) for the Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group in the U.S. Atlantic Fleet Operating Areas along the Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina coasts.

Donald G. Cook

Bath Iron Works' fifteenth ARLEIGH BURKE Class Destroyer is named in honor of Marine Corps Vietnam War hero, Colonel Donald G. Cook. Col. Cook was awarded the Medal of Honor (posthumously) for his extraordinary courage while a prisoner of war. Col. (then Captain) Cook volunteered for a temporary 30 day tour in Vietnam as an observer from Communications Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. Accompanying elements of the 4th Vietnamese Marines, Col. Cook was wounded and captured by a vastly superior Viet Cong force on New Year's Eve 1964 near Binh Gia, Phouc Tuy Province, South Vietnam, while on a search and recovery mission for a downed American helicopter crew. The 33 year old Brooklyn, New York, native and father of four set an example and standard for his fellow Americans contrary to the Viet Cong's goal of breaking down the prisoners. Col. Cook's rigid adherence to the Code of Conduct won him the respect of his fellow prisoners and his Communist captors.

Donald Cook was the son of Walter and Helen Cook and the brother of Walter and Irene (Walter passed away in 1960 and Irene Coleman still lives in N.Y.). They grew up in a strong Catholic family in Brooklyn attending Jesuit primary and secondary schools. He excelled at sports and his exploits on the gridiron earned him the nickname, "Bayridge Bomber." Upon graduation from Xavier High School, Col. Cook enrolled at St. Michael's College in Winooski, Vermont, where his academic standing was well above average. Col. Cook enrolled in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps but was subsequently discharged for non-attendance because he had met a beautiful young woman destined to become his wife, Laurette Giroux of Burlington, Vermont. Upon graduation in 1956, Col. Cook joined the Marine Corps Reserve as a private after receiving a special waiver for his lack of attendance at ROTC and completed Marine Corps Officer's Candidate School at Quantico, Virginia in 1957. He then attended Communications Officer School and subsequently served in various communications roles at Camp Pendleton with the 1st Marine Division earning the respect of his superior officers and a regular commission in the Marine Corps. Col. Cook then attended the Chinese Mandarin Language Course at Monterey, California and the Army Intelligence School at Fort Holabird, Maryland graduating first in a class of 25. The next three years found him serving as the Officer-in-Charge of the 1st Interrogator-Translator Team with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Hawaii. It was during this time that Col. Cook displayed a remarkable fascination with prisoners of war. He wrote a pamphlet based on the experiences of American POWs in Korea detailing the Communist interrogation techniques and he applied those techniques in realistic training scenarios for Marines. Col. Cook would dress in a Communist uniform made by his wife and Laurette would use her eyeliner to make Don appear oriental. He was an imposing spectacle to the "captured" Marines.

On 11 December 1964, Col. Cook was reassigned to the Communications Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. That same day, he and eight other Marines were issued orders to proceed to Saigon, Republic of Vietnam, and report to the Senior Marine Advisor. On December 31st, Col. Cook volunteered to conduct a search and recovery mission for a downed American helicopter and set off with the 4th Battalion of Vietnamese Marines. Ambushed on their arrival at the crash site, Col. Cook rallied the Vietnamese Marines who accompanied him, tended to the wounded and was attempting to drag others to safety when he was wounded in the leg and captured. Col. Cook was taken to a Viet Cong POW camp in the jungles of South Vietnam near the Cambodian border where he quickly established himself as the senior American (even though he was not) and provided guidance and strength to his fellow prisoners. Col. Cook's actions were in direct defiance of his captors who attempted to remove all semblance of military rank and structure among the POWs. He impressed upon the Viet Cong that he was senior among the POWs and therefore spokesman for the group, fully aware that his actions would lead to harsh treatment for himself. Col. Cook was subjected to physical abuse and isolation but he resisted his captor's efforts to break his will and was used as a "bad" example by his Communist guards. Surviving on limited rations, Col. Cook tried to maintain his health in his ten foot square cage. He could be seen by other prisoners exercising and running for hours. Once, while assigned to a work detail with a VC guard, Col. Cook stepped up the pace to embarrass his captors. Still, the jungle prison took its toll on Col. Cook's health and he and the other prisoners found themselves in a weakened state. Perhaps due to this weakened condition, Col. Cook contracted malaria shortly before moving to a new camp. He was so weak that he staggered when he walked, could not traverse log bridges, and lost his night vision due to vitamin deficiency. Still, he persevered refusing to allow anyone to carry his pack or otherwise put a strain on themselves to help him.

By the time the new camp was reached, even the camp commander complemented Col. Cook on his courage. Although he regained some of his strength at the new camp, Col. Cook still suffered from the effects of malaria. As illness struck the other prisoners, Col. Cook unhesitatingly took on the bulk of their workloads in order that they might have time to recover. His knowledge of first aid prompted him to nurse the severely sick by administering heart massage, moving limbs, and keeping men's tongues from blocking their air passages. He was instrumental in saving the lives of several POWs who were convulsing with severe malaria attacks. Even though he was on half-rations, Col. Cook shared his food with the weaker POWs even giving up his allowance of penicillin. Because he was isolated, Col. Cook devised a drop off point for communications, instructing his fellow POWs to continue resistance and offering the means to do so. Time and again he refused to negotiate for his own release knowing full well it would mean his imprisonment for the entire war.

After a failed escape attempt, a gun was held to his head and Col. Cook calmly recited the pistol's nomenclature showing no fear whatsoever. Surely he knew that in his deteriorated condition that he would not survive a long imprisonment yet he continued to offer food and badly needed medicine to other POWs. In this respect, he went far above and beyond the call of duty by risking his life to inspire other POWs to survive.

Col. Donald G. Cook was last seen on a jungle trail by a fellow American prisoner, Douglas Ramsey, in November 1967. When Mr. Ramsey was released in 1973, he was told that Cook had died from malaria on 8 December 1967 while still in captivity. No remains were ever returned by the Vietnamese government. On 26 February 1980, Col. Cook was declared dead under the Missing Service Persons Act of 1942. On 15 May 1980, a memorial stone was placed in Arlington National Cemetary and the flag from the empty grave presented to his wife, Laurette. The following day Colonel Donald G. Cook was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. The ship's motto, "Faith Without Fear" epitomizes his courage and faith in God and country.




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