Received this from a brother Marine:

Colonel Donald Gilbert Cook was the first U.S. Marine captured in
Vietnam; the first and only Marine in history to earn the Medal of
Honor while in captivity; and the first Marine POW to have a U.S. Navy
ship named in his honor.

On December 31, 1964 he was captured near Binh Gia in South Vietnam.
Until his death in captivity in December 1967, Cook led ten POWs in a
series of primitive jungle camps. His leadership and adherence to the
U.S. Military Code of Conduct earned him the nation's highest military

This is the first book-length biography of Colonel Donald G. Cook. It
concentrates especially on his years in captivity and also covers the
ten other POWs under his command, including Sgt. Harold George Bennett
( the first American POW executed in Vietnam) and Sgt. Issac Camacho (
the first American POW to escape in Vietnam). The author outlines the
circumstances surrounding Cook's Medal of Honor citation and death.
All told, Cook's biography is a unique study of exemplary leadership
under almost unbearable conditions. Nearly 70 photographs are

About the author.

Retired Marine Colonel Donald L. Price earned the Silver Star, three
Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart for service in Vietnam. He lives in
Sierra Vista, Arizona.

The story.

Leading up to what I'm about to share with you, Col. Cook had led some
other POWs on an escape attempt in which they were unsuccessful and
recaptured. The narrative picks up from there.

Leaving the hut, they walked toward the latrine when their guards
stopped them, ordering Crafts back inside. Suddenly, Bennett
whispered, " We can't leave him behind. " Cook looked at him and
whispered back, " I'm in command here, and this is my decision. Let's
go!" They had not gone far when Bennett's foot got caught in the
undergrowth. Being too weak….he was unable to free himself. At this
time, one of the guards caught up with Bennett. As the VC turned to
call for help, Bennett hit him and put his hand over his mouth to
muzzle his shout. Cook then hit the guard several times but was unable
to render him unconscious. In the course of the struggle, the guard
nearly bit off one of Bennett's fingers. Suddenly,another guard showed
up and forced the two Americans back to the camp at gunpoint.

Once in the camp, the enraged guards struck Bennett in the head with
their clenched fists and clubbed him to the ground with their rifle
butts. Then they beat him with a bamboo staff. Bennett uttered not a
sound– even with his finger severed to the bone.

Cook thought they would be shot for lambasting the guard.

After dark, two Viet Cong officers came into the hut, forced Cook and
Bennett to their knees, put pistols to their heads, and threatened to
shoot them. One of the officers said to Cook in perfect Oxford
English, "I shall now kill you. I have the authority to do so."

In an incredible act of faith without fear, Cook gazed up at him and
said, " You can't kill me. Only God can decide when I die."

The stymied officer did not pull his trigger. Apparently, he was the
senior and the malevolent twosome backed off. Cook had psychologically
disarmed them with his righteous defiance

God Bless America and the U.S. Marine Corps

See his web page here


  1. Salute to Colonel Donald Gilbert and all those that were with him.
    Thank you for bringing his story and the book to our attention Major.

  2. I first heard of this book from Don Cook’s son. The book is worth reading. It is a story of great courage and endurance. Every American should be proud to have been represented by such an incredible American hero, just like so many of our great soldiers. Thank you to all who serve our great nation.

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