Marlin Curtis Cook

Sergeant First Class
Army of the United States
18 December 1929 - 29 January 1966
Vernon, Alabama
Panel 04E Line 106

Silver Star

Combat Infantry

Purple Heart, Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

Marlin C Cook

The database page for Marlin Curtis Cook

17 Apr 2002

Curtis was my first cousin though 18 years older than me. Growing up, you were my HERO. Whenever I knew that you were coming for a visit, my whole world lit up. I remember the big Cadillac with you driving and me in the seat next to you while you sang Hank Williams songs and seemed to be the happiest person on earth. The day I found out that I would never see you again was one of the worst days of my life. I was only 17 at the time and went to say my last goodbye at Fort Bragg.

Two years later, I would find myself on the same soil in the same country that had claimed your life. All the time that I was in Viet Nam with the 101st Airborne, you were constantly on my mind. Even today, 36 years after you left us, I still get a warm feeling when I think of you. Though I know that you may never see this, I just wanted that all who do see it, will know what a special man you were.

Your Ardent Admirer and Cousin,

Tom Champion
1005 S. Norbury Ave., Lombard, Il 60148

15 Jul 2004

I found myself typing in my grandfather's name today only to find this page and I read what you wrote. My name is Jessica Cook and Marlin Cook was my grandfather. My grandmother is Ruby Fay Robertson Cook of Alabama and my father is Marlin David, his youngest son. I've always wondered about his family since of course I am his only grandchild. Unfortunately not being able to carry on his name has always upset me and not knowing any other family members has as well. He died long before I was born. People tell me many wonderful things about him and the strong person he was. I miss him without knowing him, and I admire him for the price he gave his country. I know he's always with me. He always has been. Thank you for this site. It makes my family proud. I went to Washington DC two summers ago with my mother to the Vietnam Wall and I did a rubbing of his name. It was very bittersweet. Please write to me. I would love to talk to you.

From his grand-daughter,
Jessica Faye Cook

16 Jun 2006

My boyfriend found the Project Delta web site after reading the book SOG. We discovered that my grandfather served along side these men. This is the story of how it happened.

"According to Chuck Hiner - and the records - the team was inserted into the An Lo Valley at last light on 27 January 1966. Two wet days later - it was raining hard - the six-man team was sitting down taking a break when it came under heavy fire from a large force of Viet Cong.

"In the initial burst of fire Cook, Weber, and Hoaglund were hit," said Hiner "and I don't know but I think Dotson and Hancock were hit then too. I don't know for sure because they were on flank security. When we got hit I went to the top of the hill to keep anybody from coming over the hill on top of us.

"Cook (the radio man) was flank security on the left side and he couldn't get to the radio - he was paralyzed. He called me back down and I cut the radio off him.

"There was a pile of rocks in the middle of this clearing so I took the radio in there and lay down on it and started calling.

"I called everybody and their mother who would answer.

"We kept getting fire in on us and fire in on us.

"After we got the FAC (Forward Air Controller, a Capt. Kenneth L. Kerr) on the radio and started doing our shit I started looking around. I could hear Dotson. He was hit through the chest and I could hear that death rattle. This other kid (Hancock) - first trip in, first time on the ground, the whole nine yards - he was dead. They had stitched him from the ankle to the top of his head. Hoaglund was more-or-less still alive. Cook lasted a long time in there but he finally died, I guess maybe about 1:00 or 2:00 o'clock that afternoon."

Webber had four bullets, all in the arm, from the first burst of fire and shortly after it started Hiner was wounded when he was shot in the head by a VC firing an AK-47.

"The dude shot at me the same time I shot at him," said Hiner. "I hit him first, though, and it caused him to jerk up. It (the round) went about a quarter of an inch in my scalp. It went down into the bone and just left a perfect groove.

"I had called airstrikes in on top of our position to keep from getting overrun. It was either do that or get overrun so 'What the hell.'

"We were fighting - I would dare say the closest - within 10 feet of each other. It was that tight. That's why, when I popped smoke and told the FAC to take it 360 degrees from the center of that, he said 'I can't do it because it will come in on you.'

"I said well it's either you or them. And that's the way it went.

"He didn't like it but I didn't like it either."

During a lull near the end of the battle, which lasted four hours, Hiner crawled down the slope to strip the dead - Hoaglund, Dotson and Hancock - of their ammo since he and Webber were almost out.

Hiner said when he got back to Hoaglund, he found him on his back, beside a tree, with the rifle muzzle pointing toward his head. "He had one arm shot off, the other was hanging by a thread."

During the final minutes of the battle, two reaction forces moved frantically through the thick bush toward Hiner's position. One was from the 1st Air Cav, the other, that was first on the ground, was a Reaction Force from Project Delta commanded by a Lt. Holland - and led by Sgt Maj. Walt Shumate, who later became an SF legend in his role as the Sgt. Maj. for "charging" Charlie Beckwith in many SF commands.

"You know when I knew I had made it?" asked Hiner, who recounted that he and Webber, down to just a few rounds between them were crouched down behind a log. "I looked up and saw Walt's bare ass coming over the top of that log. Walt told me later he was busting bush so hard and fast coming up that hill, he had busted out his pants."

Taken from the Project Delta website

It was strange for me to read this and find out for the first time what exactly my grandfather was doing when he was killed. The paper work they sent back at the time of death says he was killed by "friendly fire." I hardly see how it was "friendly". Understandably this information was classified at the time and has since become de-classified.

I was already proud of my grandfather for serving his country but upon this discovery I have a new-found respect for this man. In the book SOG it is quoted that these men knew what they were signing up for. Most times it was a "suicide-mission" and "they promised you either a medal, a bodybag or both." My grandfather got both, but I can't imagine the pride he must have felt for having been a part of something so extraordinary and respectable.

From his grand-daughter,
Jessica Faye Cook

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Organized as "Project Delta" in October 1964, Detachment B-52 specialized in training ARVN Special Forces troops and by late 1965 was conducting long-range recon missions in South Vietnam's border regions and across the borders into Laos and Cambodia. These missions usually involved 8 indigenous troops led by two US Special Forces soldiers.

The 1st Cavalry Division's Operation MASHER, running from 24 Jan until 06 Mar 1966, was the largest search and destroy mission up to that point in the war. The 1st Cav requested Project Delta recon support in the northern end of the An Lao Valley, an area which had been under complete Viet Cong/North Vietnamese control for years. Major Charles ("Charging Charlie") Beckwith had been assigned command of Det B-52 in the summer of 1965, and he decided that the An Lao Valley recon would be conducted by all-US teams. Seventeen men in three teams - RT ESKIMO, RT ROADRUNNER, and RT CAPITOL - were inserted into the An Lao Valley on the evening of 27 January 1966. Det B-52's Operation 2-66 promptly turned into Project Delta's worst disaster of the war.

  • RT ESKIMO was engaged on the morning of 28 Jan and was forced to abort. All five team members were recovered, one with a severe head wound.

  • RT ROADRUNNER was engaged early on 29 January, with one man severely wounded. The team divided into two sections in order to evade the enemy. Two men from one section and one from the other were successfully extracted, but three men were left behind:
    • MSG Cecil J. Hodgson, Greenville, TX (MIA)
    • SSG Frank N. Badolati, Goffstown, NH (KIA/BNR)
    • SSG Ronald T. Terry, Niagara Falls, NY (KIA/BNR) (Dist Svc Cross)

  • RT CAPITOL lost four men as described above, but their bodies and the two surviving team members were recovered:
Major Beckwith's command and control helo had been hit during the extraction attempts and he was among the wounded; his injuries forced his relief from command of Detachment B-52.

While Ms. Cook cites SOG, Shelby Stanton's Green Berets at War addresses Op 2-66 in detail on pages 205-207. Stanton writes that SFC Cook was initially wounded and paralyzed from the waist down by enemy fire but "was killed by helicopters strafing through the middle of the clearing" when SSG Hiner called fire down on the patrol's position, thus explaining Ms. Cook's statement regarding "friendly fire".

The photo at the top of the page was provided by Jessica Cook and was taken while Sergeant Cook was serving in France before arriving in Vietnam.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his granddaughter,
Jessica Faye Cook

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AL State Index . Panel 04E
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 17 Apr 2002
Last updated 06/30/2006