CSM Eric F. Cooke

CSM Eric F. Cooke


Date of Death: Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Conflict: Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq)
Branch: U.S. Army
Rank: Command Sgt. Maj.

Birth: Sep. 23, 1960
Maricopa County
Arizona, USA
Death: Dec. 24, 2003
Baghdad, Iraq

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Cooke was assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, based in Ray Barracks, Friedberg, Germany. Cooke was killed while in a vehicle that was struck by an improvised explosive device. When Eric was 17, police arrested him for possession of burglary tools but by the time he reached his 40's, the military had turned him around. He entered the Army in 1978 and held a number of leadership positions before being named a command sergeant major. He fought in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and earned a Bronze Star and also earned two college degrees including a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from Regents College, now Excelsior College, of the University of New York. He is survived by his wife of 23 years, Dagmar. On Eric's last day, he was waiting on the tarmac of Baghdad International Airport to greet Rep. Phil Gingrey, a freshman Republican from Georgia and member of the Armed Services Committee. He told Gingrey about his 26 years of service to this country in Kosovo, Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was looking forward to his retirement in four years but very proud of his service to his country. Shortly before a roadside bomb ripped into his Humvee north of Baghdad, he'd explained in a letter home why he didn't sign up for a two-week leave to visit his family — he didn't want to leave behind a 1st Armored Division comrade who didn't qualify for the pass. An hour or so before he died, he had heard about an injured soldier in urgent need of O-positive blood. So he rushed to a field hospital and donated his own blood, then raced back to rejoin his doomed convoy.

NOTE: The dining facility at Camp Cooke, Taji, Iraq, was renamed in honor of Command Sgt Major Eric Cooke. An autographed pennant from the Dallas Mavericks; a jersey worn by former Orlando Magic team member Tracy McGrady; and a picture of star franchise player Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers are just a few of the many items of sports paraphernalia that cover the walls and ceiling of the Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Cooke Sports Café Dining Facility at Camp Cooke.

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington County
Virginia, USA
Plot: Section 60, Site 8123

CSM Eric F. Cooke 2
CSM Eric F. Cooke 3