Joseph Francis Cook

Lance Corporal
United States Marine Corps
15 January 1949 - 10 May 1968
Foxboro, Massachusetts
Panel 58E Line 005



Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Joseph Francis Cook

18 Jun 2003

Joseph is my "adopted" MIA.
Just wanted to say that I am thinking of you.

Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.

E-Mail will be forwarded by the

29 Apr 2004

We served together in Hawaii and Vietnam.

We came back for you, CZ, and all the others in 1995. You will never be forgotten!

Aloha, Bro!

Tim Brown,
USMC (Retired)
Battery D, 2nd Bn, 13th Marines, 1st Marine Division.

10 Aug 2005

From the Sun Chronicle newspaper, 10 August 2005:

FOXBORO -- Lance Cpl. Joseph F. Cook of Foxboro and 11 of his Marine buddies were airlifted to a tiny South Vietnamese border outpost in the spring of 1968, only to fall in a desperate battle with North Vietnamese forces.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced that the remains of Cook and his fellow Marines, lost for almost 40 years, had been identified in the largest group of U.S. servicemen ever recovered from a single ground action since the war.

Cook, 22, a member of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, was among those killed when a border observation camp was attacked and overrun near Ngok Tavak along the Laotian border in western South Vietnam.

Welcome home, Lance Cpl. Cook. Rest in peace.

From someone who grew up in Foxboro and who has thought about our lost veterans over the years.
E-Mail will be forwarded by the

10 Aug 2005

Welcome Home.

From a fellow vet,
E-Mail will be forwarded by the

10 Aug 2005

My prayers were answered, they found you. It took 37 long years but today August 10th I woke up to sad but good news - you are coming home. I too have your bracelet. Semper Fi, Marine, you will still not be forgotten. You will always be in my mind, thoughts and prayers. I wish that I could see a picture of you.

Thank you!

25 Dec 2005

Just thinking of you as always. Merry Christmas, Joe!

Joan Petersen

15 Jan 2006

Happy Birthday, Joe!!!! Just letting you know that I am thinking about you on your birthday.


Joan Petersen
260 Raynor Ave, Whitman, Ma. 02382
10 Aug 2005

You are coming home my friend!
It has been so long, but now you can find peace.
I will be there for you.
Love you.

Never forgotten, always in our hearts.

Martha Pulrang

24 Sep 2005

My friend, you were laid to rest today between your parents. I am sure they were waiting still for your arrival home. So many tears fell, from young and old, women and men, those who knew you and those who did not. But all were together today to welcome you home.

I know you walked the streets they carried you down today before you left. And those streets were lined today with people thanking you and remembering you.

Rest now, you are home. I will visit you frequently, my friend. I will never forget. Semper Fi!

Martha Pulrang

10 Aug 2005

It is with a sense of sorrow mixed with joy that I welcome Joseph Cook back to the world, may he finally rest in peace along with his fellow Marine Paul Czerwonka of Stoughton, MA, whose remains have also been returned from Vietnam for interment.

A concerned citizen of the
National League of Families
Northeast Region 3
E-Mail will be forwarded by the

11 Aug 2005

Joe Cook
I've never forgotten you and the times we shared back in 1966.
May you rest in peace.

From a friend,
Joyce Baker Brooks
Wilmington, Vermont 05363

21 Sep 2005

Joseph F. Cook will be buried September 24, 2005 in Foxboro. All 2/13 Marines should report in at

The remaining Delta 2/13 MIAs will be buried October 7th at Arlington. Gone but not forgotten. No Marine truly dies until he is forgotten. 2/13 Marines won't forget their buddies who died May 10, 1968.

From a 2/13 Marine.

25 Sep 2005

37 years later, town buries long-missed Marine
Remains found in Vietnam
By Michael Levenson, Globe Correspondent
September 25, 2005

FOXBOROUGH -- Escorted by Marines in full dress uniform, his hearse passed a bank that used to be the Hideaway Restaurant, where he would scarf burgers and fries. It rounded Foxborough Common, where he often sneaked cigarettes. It glided past Nancy Gaffey, 77, who remembered him working on fin-backed muscle cars with her son.

"It's nice to have him back home," said Barbara McAuliffe, 52, who was clutching a small American flag.

Thirty-seven years after he was killed in action on Little Ngok Tavak Hill in Quang Tin Province, Vietnam, the remains of Lance Corporal Joseph F. Cook returned to the streets he once roamed. After fellow Vietnam veterans lobbied for years, Cook's remains had been found, and returned to his hometown of Foxborough. Yesterday, 600 people - friends, family, and strangers - lined a mile-long route through town to honor him on his journey to St. Mary's Cemetery.

It was part celebration, mourning, and townwide catharsis.

"Joe was my dad's hero; he idolized him," said Bernadette Whittier, 32, who had brought her daughter, Laura, 9, to the procession. Cook and her father, she said, used to skip school and go hunting together. When Cook died, at age 19 on May 10, 1968, his body was left behind in the midst of a chaotic and bloody firefight. Officially, he had been listed as missing in action.

"I am just so glad they found him. We had to come here," Whittier said, as Cook's hearse, preceded by a military color guard and bagpipe-and-drum corps, passed under a giant American flag suspended between the ladders of two firetrucks.

In town, Cook was known as something of a tough teenager, a dingo-boot-wearing, slicked-hair-sporting, rock-'em-sock-'em cool guy. That is why he liked the Hideaway Restaurant, a place that used to scare off some off the other local teens, McAuliffe said.

"He was like the Fonzie of Foxborough," McAuliffe said, referring to the leather-jacketed icon of the television comedy "Happy Days". "Everyone liked him; he was a good kid."

And yesterday, they stood at attention to pay their last respects. Dozens of motorcyclists with the POW-MIA insignia on their jackets parked their Harley-Davidsons, engines still rumbling, along the parade route, on Mechanic Street.

A bicyclist pulled over to the side of the road to watch the procession. Grace Alden, 10, and her sister Eliza, 7, held an American flag with their father, Chris, 41.

Customers came out on to the stairs of Primo's Sandwich Shop and the Golden Scissors Hair Salon. Veterans in military regalia stood outside the Lawrence W. Foster American Legion Post 93, their hands at their foreheads in crisp salute.

"It's a huge day in the history of Foxborough," Chris Alden said.

Gaffey wiped away tears as Cook's hearse neared. Then she laughed when she remembered the afternoons Cook spent under the hood of a car, tinkering endlessly with her son, Billy, who also served in Vietnam.

"They worked right outside - and snuck beers," Gaffey said, with just a hint of motherly disapproval.

Cook's remains were found along with 12 others, five of whom have been identified through DNA testing, said Scott Thomas, 58, a Marine Corps veteran who served with Cook at Little Ngok Tavak Hill.

Some of the remains are thought to have been those of Private First Class Paul S. Czerwonka of Stoughton, Cook's inseparable friend in Vietnam, known to all as "CZ" because no one could pronounce his last name, Thomas said.

Czerwonka will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 7, Thomas said yesterday as he stood at Cook's graveside.

"You have that, 'Why me?'" Thomas said. "Why did I survive and others didn't?"

At the graveside, Marines folded an American flag into tri-corners and handed it to Bert Cook, Joseph's brother. Hundreds of townspeople stood around the graveside as Cook pressed a small, bronze box containing his brother's remains into the freshly dug earth.

"It's a hell of a sendoff," Bert Cook, 68, said. "I never expected them to remember, and I'm just amazed."

Later, he returned to the American Legion Post, where platters of egg salad sandwiches were laid out.

Another parade of people - children, relatives, and friends - wrapped their arms around Bert Cook, who had been crying.

"It's hard," he said. "I'm not over this."

From The Boston Globe
Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.
Reproduced under 17 USC 107


25 Sep 2005

Welcome Home, Marine.
You Have Not Been Forgotten.
Semper Fi

From another Vet
Phil Pruchansky
US Navy
E-Mail will be forwarded by the

05 Nov 2005

God Bless this Marine.
I have worn his MIA/POW bracelet for over 19 years.
I visit "The Wall" and pray for his return.

From a fellow Marine, Class of "84",
Mark C. Falugo
Attleboro, Ma. 02703

14 Sep 2007

Joseph F. Cook, I feel as though I know you. You and my father were best friends as children, and went into the Marine Corps together. Growing up I heard many stories about the wonderful person you were. My father and I would go to the Wall and trace your name with a crayon, all the while crying. I remember the day that my father was told that your body would be coming home. I never knew you, but I love you. You are a part of my family, and a part of my heart. Please rest in peace, and know that you will always be in my thoughts.

Amanda S. Yeram
Daughter of Domenick Flacco

A Note from The Virtual Wall

In the spring of 1968 the North Vietnamese Army's 2nd Division was enroute to South Vietnam, moving down the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos. By early May, the division's advance regiments - the 1st and 2nd Regiments - had entered South Vietnam using the French-built Route 14 which passed by the old French fort at Ngok Tavak. The NVA commanders decided that Ngok Tavak and the main Special Forces camp at Kham Duc had to go.

Beginning at about 0300 on 10 May 1968, Ngok Tavak came under heavy attack by a North Vietnamese Army infantry battalion, an element of the 2nd NVA Regiment. In a pitched battle, the small force of defenders staved off immediate defeat, but by noon on 10 May it was clear that Ngok Tavak would have to be abandoned. Surrounded on three sides by the 2nd NVA Regiment, it was clear the withdrawal would have to be by foot moving to the north - the attacking force had made a helicopter evacuation impossible. After destroying equipment and supplies which could not be carried out, the survivors began the move to the main camp at Kham Duc, proceeding along a lane flanked by near-continuous air strikes. They were picked up by helicopter midway to Kham Duc, arriving at the camp at about 2100 (9 PM) on 10 May. The defending force at Ngok Tavak had incurred numerous losses in both known dead and missing soldiers and Marines:

  • HMM-265, MAG-16, 1st MAW:
  • D Btry, 2nd Bn, 13th Marines, 1st MarDiv:
  • Det A-105 (Ngok Tavak), C Co, 5th SF Grp, Special Forces:
    • SFC Thomas H. Perry, Canton, CT
    • SGT Glenn E. Miller, Oakland, CA
The bodies of the two men marked with asterisks above were brought out during the retreat from Ngok Tavak; the other 14 Americans could not be recovered.

In a sense, the survivors of Ngok Tavok jumped from the frying pan into the fire - Kham Duc itself was under heavy attack. What happened next is covered on The Virtual Wall's Kham Duc memorial.

The following text is exerpted from the 2nd Bn, 13th Marines' Command Chronology for May 1968; it addresses the D Battery detachment sent to Ngok Tavak:

Several pages further on is a list of the 43 Marines and one Navy Corpsman in the detachment; of the 44, 13 were dead (11 not recovered); 18 wounded had been medevaced by helo; and 13 moved out by ground with the other survivors. The detachment was recommended for a Meritorious Unit Citation; a portion of the text notes that "During the helicopter evacuation, members of the Detachment voluntarily remained on the ground to provide security until the rest of the survivors had been extracted and the last helo was ready to depart."

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

No. 820-05
Aug 10, 2005


Twelve MIAS from Vietnam War are Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today the identification of the remains of 12 U. S. servicemen missing in action from the Vietnam War. Five of those identified are being returned to their families for burial, and the remaining seven will be buried as a group in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D. C.

The men who were individually identified are: Cpl. Gerald E. King, of Knoxville, Tenn.; Lance Cpls. Joseph F. Cook, of Foxboro, Mass.; Raymond T. Heyne, of Mason, Wis.; Donald W. Mitchell, of Princeton, Ky.; and Thomas W. Fritsch, of Cromwell, Conn., all of the U. S. Marine Corps. Additional group remains are those of: Pfcs. Thomas J. Blackman, of Racine, Wis.; Paul S. Czerwonka, of Stoughton, Mass.; Barry L. Hempel, of Garden Grove, Calif.; Robert C. Lopez, of Albuquerque, N. M.; William D. McGonigle, of Wichita, Kan.; and Lance Cpl. James R. Sargent, of Anawalt, W. Va., all of the U. S. Marine Corps. Additionally, the remains of U. S. Army Sgt. Glenn E. Miller, of Oakland, Calif. will be included in the group burial.

The Marines were part of an artillery platoon airlifted to provide support to the 11th Mobile Strike Force, which was under threat of attack from North Vietnamese forces near Kham Duc in South Vietnam. On May 9, 1968, the Strike Force had been directed to reconnoiter an area known as Little Ngok Tavak Hill near the Laos-Vietnam border, in the Kham Duc Province. Their base came under attack by North Vietnamese Army troops, and after a 10-hour battle, all of the survivors were able to withdraw from the area.

Six investigations beginning in 1993 and a series of interviews of villagers and former Vietnamese soldiers led U. S. recovery teams in 1994, 1997 and 1998 to specific defensive positions within the large battle site. Additionally, maps provided by American survivors helped to locate some key areas on the battlefield. Three excavations by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) in 1998 and 1999 yielded human remains, personal effects and other material evidence.

JPAC scientists and Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory specialists used mitochondrial DNA as one of the forensic tools to help identify the remains.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 18 Jun 2003
Last updated 06/06/2008