Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Eric F. Cooke

43, of Scottsdale, Arizona.
Cooke was in a convoy vehicle that struck an improvised explosive device in Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, based in Ray Barracks, Friedberg, Germany. Died on December 24, 2003.

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"CSM Cooke was the BN S3 SGM for my unit, 2/63 AR in Vilseck, Germany when I arrived Dec 1999. Most of the BN was deployed so I was assigned to the S3 during my inprocessing. SGM Cooke once asked me if I contacted my family after arriving. I told him I sent them an email. He showed me a phone I could make international calls on. He said, "I want them to hear your voice and know that you arrived safely". My job was to keep his coffee pot full thru the day. After the Christmas Holidays I was reassigned to B Co so I could have time on a tank. He didn't like Soldiers to be in HHC if their real training is for tanking. He was a true leader and believed in training Soldiers to become NCOs. He died three months before we arrived in Iraq. Camp Cooke in Iraq was named for him. R I P"
John Counts of Decatur, Ga

"CSM Cooke,
Remembering you always. Great leader.
Ready First"
CSM (R) Ray Houston of SA TX

"7 May 2014: I met CSM Cooke when I arrived in Budingen as Major Schwaiger to be the S-3 for 1-1 Cavalry in July 2001---he was my next door neighbor, friend, & CSM for the next two years--I cannot say enough about him as a Soldier, Friend, and Example...as I close in on my retirement this June, I will always remember him and the example he set. I still take pause every Christmas Eve and spend some time remembering the finest Soldier I ever knew.
Right now as I type this, I am looking at a picture of his headstone in Arlington. I keep very few pictures in my office, but this is one. It constantly reminds me of the purity of being a Soldier, and the man who was the best example of what that truly means.
Rest in Peace Eric, until we meet again at Fiddler's Green.

"Blackhawk 3 & 6M - Ancient""
Colonel Steve Schwaiger of Yorktown, Virginia

"CSM Eric F. Cooke I'm running this for you. I refuse to quit as you didn't for this country."
Pv2 Kayla Walker of Mt.Morris MI/United States

"To a great leader of Soldiers. You will never be forgotten. You were a friend and mentor to everyone."

"Last great N.C.O. I had the pleasure of working with truly missed the world lost a amazing man and heaven gained a superb soldier"
Robert ireland of Ft Campbell

"Always remembered..."
J. McCree of Fort Hood

"Always remebered..."
J. McCree of Fort Hood

"Always remember, Never forget"
SSG Harder of Okawville, IL

"CSM Cooke was my CSM when I was in Buedingen Germany 1/1 CAV, he knew every soldiers in the squadron , every Monday you see him walking around the post talking to soldiers the last time I talk to him was in Graf when he told my platoon "support platoon" that we are deploying and he was going up to brigade and he was not going with us I remember soldiers in the platoon was upset about the news because we all love CSM Cooke. I remember this one time in GRaf I was smoking my soldier at 2300 hours for not showering and out of no where CSM Cooke showed up I thought I was about to get my * handed to me for smoking my soldier this late even my soldier stop doing the exercise, but nope CSM Cooke looked at me with a smile and said "good *ing training hooah" my soldiers head went down and it felt good to know that my CSM had my back. I wasn't in Iraq when he passed but I remember my friends in the platoon calling me crying and I broke down myself he was the best CSM I ever had other CSM after him was never the same , on my 2nd deployment I saw the DFAC they dedicated for him and I was tearing up I told my soldiers his story and told them that he was always there for the soldiers. RIP CSM"
SSG Asuncion of FT Lewis, WA

"CSM Cooke was my mentor and i will miss him truely... he pushed me to make E5
1/1 cav was alot of good memories."
Dwayne Tuttobene of Los Angeles CA

"CSM Cooke, when all others were more concerned with improving each groups positions, you visited my platoon. You were the only person who asked if we needed anything. You came through with a full bag of sure fire batteries. When we had a minor casualty, you stopped by to check on him and us. I was less than a mile away that night and heard the blast. It took my breath away when I found you had been hit. And my heart broke for your family to have to find out on Christmas day of your passing. We were all better for knowing you!"
MAJ Dave Dykema

"R7, CSM,
We will always remember."
CSM (R) Ray Houston of SA TX

"I was there the night he passed. I remember his speach to his Soldier's before we left his FOB. He struck me as a great leader and I have never forgotten him and his courage. He truly lead from the front. It has been 8 years now and I have never forgotten him. I was not one of his Soldier's but was there."
SFC Weisskopf of Fort Campbell

"I will always remember CSM Cooke. He liked to go outside the wire with his soldiers in Iraq..."
SFC McCree of Fort Hood, Texas

"They stopped killing your soldiers today Sergeant Major, your troopers are going home!!!"
SSG. (Ret) David A Marklein of West Columbia South Carolina

"I first met CSM Cooke when he was a 1SG for HHT 1/1 Cavlary in Garadac, Bosnia. I was sent in as the new Plt Sgt for the Cav maintenance team attached to HHT. My first encounter 1SG Cooke was him telling me how messed up the old Plt Sgt was and I had alot of work to do. Within a couple of days one of my soldiers screwed up and missed guard duty, 1SG Cooke wanted to handle it like the previous Plt Sgt let him. We argued for about 10 to 15 minutes finally he got this half smile and told me alright he'd give me the chance, I then came back with I am keeping an eye on him. He then proceeded to tell me get out of his office. From that point on we grew as friends and fellow soldiers.
There were some roller coaster moments but when he told me that he signed me up for the 1/1 Calvary Spur Ride we went at it again and finally in his memorable tone he said " It's not for you, it's for your soldiers." After completing the Spur Ride and at the awards ceremony he stood there behind Col. Stone as he gave me his spurs, 1SG Cooke smiled and winked, I knew again he was right.
Once we redeployed to Buedingen and our Cav Team was invited to the Banquet for 1/1 Cavalry, I met his wife and I introduced him to mine, we talked of his love of motorcycles and that he can't wait to ride again. a group of Senior Officers and CSM's came up I went to excuse myself and he grabbed my arm took me over in front of the group and told them I was the best damn Plt Sgt he had. You can not know when you respect a Fellow Soldier and Friend that much how that stayed with me to this day.
In honor of a true hero, your gone but will never be forgotten."
SFC (R) Robert Jarman of Houston, TX/ USA

"'Buzz" was the only name Eric F. Cooke would accept from people.Calling him Eric would get your * kicked but quick!It brought tears to my eyes to read all the messages people were kind enough to leave about my brother. Good to know we may have known him by a different name, but the man remains the same. Today would've been "Erics'" 51st birthday. I miss him more than words can describe.I have a congenital heart condition and was diagnosed having heart disease 6 weeks before his death that black christmas eve. Never did he "baby" me,nor did he allow anyone to mess with his little brother. That was his job!He always told me "don't kid yourself,you'll outlive all of us" those words haunt me now. I am proud of my brother. I am also one of the few who know how hard "BUZZ" had to work to become the soldier that was CSM Eric F. Cooke. THANK YOU to everyone that took the time to honor my brother. Good son,good husband,good soldier,and now you know...he was a damn good brother to have, and if we didn't run out of time, I bet he would've been a good uncle.One last thing. MY heart goes out to Dagmar, his wife of 23 years, only met you a couple times, but I know Eric loved with ALL his heart. I truly hope you find peace."
Josh Cooke of Washington state

"I remember CSM Cooke like it was yesterday.He came down to visit our Dining Facility by the Olympic stadium just a few days prior to the fatal accident. I will never forget the day we heard the news.I didn't think I would ever stop the tears from flowing, but I had to regain control of my emotions and be strong for my troops. I will never forget the greatness of that man,Soldier,mentor,friend. I can truly say you were one of the best.501ST FSB Friedburg Germany Sep 2002-Sep 2005"
Julia Hales of Fort Polk, La

"R7, CSM Cooke,
We will always remember the great moments and your dedication."
CSM (R) Ray Houston of San Antonio

"When I think of the best NCOs I've ever served under, CSM Cooke is at the top of my list. He made the raft factory in Bosnia bearable."
Mark J. Linkhorst of Bayside, CA

"sgt mjr cooke you gave me my first1/36 coin. i rember the night you died we were raiding baghdad with xmas music blasting.5 mins b4 the explosion you made me put out my cig and sent me away from the vehicle . you saved my life and i never got to thank you"
spc morris of mesa az

"Eric, never forgot that cigar we smoked in the back garden of Saddams Palace on the 23rd of December, 2003. We were joking about how we should probably start thinking about installing some Haji Armor Doors on our Hummers as it was getting more and more dangerous outside the wire. As I remember you had an old Vietnam style flack jacket hung by some 550 chord across your plastic door and we laughed about whether it would have made more sense to just sit on it! We laughed even harder when I showed you my hummer that had the crappy plastic door removed and a brass hand grip from one of Saddams ceremonial carriages mounted above the door frame. You said that is probably not the thing I should be grabbing when I bend over to kiss my #ss goodbye! Less that 24 hours later you were gone and I have missed you ever since. Your brother in arms, Pat"
CSM (R) Patrick Douglas of Division Support Brigade , 1st Armored Division

"I love you Uncle Buzz."
Love, Alex

"I served with SGM Cooke while we were assigned to 2-63AR in Vilseck Germany. He was the model NCO whom always found the time to talk to (versus talking down to) young sargeants. I was a Master Gunner and I considered SGM Cooke a mentor. After I seperated from the Army I would occasionaly run into CSM Cooke. He would still make me feel apart of the command team while we were assisting his soldier's training. I still think of him often. The Army, now more than ever, misses his example and I miss his positive attitude."
David Williams of Grafenwöhr, Germany

"CSM Cooke, R7, you are always remembered especially on this memorial day, 2010. CSM Ray Houston, R7"
csm rAY hOUSTON of Ft Sam Houston

"Memorial Day, 31 May 2010...Remembering my teacher, coach, and mentor today.

The patriot's blood is the seed of Freedom's tree. -Thomas Campbell"
SGM (R) Carl Johnson of Richmond Hill, Georgia

"I remember when I first met you we would share coffee and cigarettes (or your cigars) outside the TOC in baghdad, Iraq. A month after I left Iraq I had heard you were KIA. I have thought of you often and know that your soldiers and fellow NCO's miss you as I do and that brings me comfort. Know that we are all now living for you and have learned a lot from you."
SGT Angela Peacock, medically retired of St. Charles, MO

"CSM Cooke was an amazing man. I remember when I was a young NCO him taking time out to mentor me. No matter how busy his schedule was he always had time for his soldiers, no matter what the time was. He is truly what every young NCO aspires to be. I know this man is missed the world over."
John Dotson of Bowling Green, KY

"CSM Cooke,
What more does one say? CSM Cooke was a leader of Soldiers! CSM Cooke had a way of passing on knowledge to NCO's and Soldiers alike without degrading you or making you feel uneasy while talking to the BDE CSM. I had several conversations with CSM Cooke as a junior SFC(First Sergeant A Co 1/36 INF). I was on that mission, when he met his untimely death. We all felt a deep sense of loss, because he was truely a father figure and mentor that you read about and strive to become. His presence alone made the any situation calm. Ready First!"
1SG Terry L. Daniel of FT. Stewart, GA

"CSM Cooke, Ready 7,
We all will always remember our great Leader and great times you provided us. "Never Forgotten". Natalie and I wish your Family well.
R7A,
CSM Ray Houston"

"I never want to forget the sacrifices of so many young men and women. I am so proud it makes me cry. I understand in theory only that war is a part of human nature but so is love and caring. I wish I could take the families pain away but I can't. I am committed to loving ALL people, myself and our environment. I am committed to working on my happiness everyday because so many have died for my freedom to live my life. Thank you is not enough but it is all I have. All my love and respect. ogersteiner@yahoo.com"
Scott E. Steiner of Worthington, OH

"As the daughter of one of Eric's best friends, I would like to say that he missed beyond words...Eric, we think and share stories of you often. Thank you for always making time for Jen and me --- I will never forget all the times you took us to play tennis and the movies.... You were a saint and are now our angel. Thank you for the sacrifice you made for us and our country. You are with us always!"
Stefanie Shea Love of Birmingham, AL

"This is the hardest message I have left for a man then a soldier. I had never gotten a chance to meet CSM Cooke. I had PCS'ed to Friedburg, Germany and had to escort his wife and also stand in on his memorial service for role call. I was deeply saddened and immediately after hearing such great words about him I knew we didn't lose him. CSM Cooke has left a legacy and that is something I would like to duplicate. I honestly believe the good die young. For his family continue to stay strong and keep your faith in God."
SGT(P) Eller, Marcus of Fort Bragg, NC

"CSM Cooke
We always think of you and your Family.
Ready First,
CSM Ray Houston"
CSM Ray Houston of Washington, DC

"Veteran's Day, 2008
To the family of Command Sgt. Maj. Eric F. Cooke:
Eric gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
www.IraqWarHeroes.org"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"Farewell to mentor, friend
I would like to take this opportunity to say goodbye to someone very special. On Dec. 24, Command Sgt. Maj. Eric F. Cooke was killed by a bomb while on a mission in Baghdad, Iraq.
CSM Cooke was part of the “Ready First” Brigade (1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division) for over a year, and during that time I watched his professionalism and dedication to duty touch every soldier that came into contact with him. I had the pleasure of knowing and working with him on a daily basis. He was not only my command sergeant major, he was my coach, teacher, mentor and friend. CSM Cooke was the consummate professional, always sharing his experience and knowledge with soldiers; he would challenge and exhort you to do your best, and at the same time he was man enough to know when to give a kind word of encouragement.
War often gives us the opportunity to see and experience sides and parts of ourselves and others that we ordinarily would not experience. This is true for me also, as I would routinely accompany CSM Cooke on his daily patrols and visits to the battalions and companies out in the sector. This was his time to share his knowledge, concern and support with the troops on the ground.
One incident I will never forget was on a hot day in July — 140 degrees and in full “battle rattle” made for a very long day. As we were heading back to the brigade headquarters, the command sergeant major made one last stop at a company command post. This company had taken rocket attacks the previous night and Cooke wanted to check on the troops’ morale.
Once we stopped, I assumed local security on the ground for him. He made his usual rounds, asking questions and giving words of encouragement to the soldiers. On our way out, CSM Cooke stopped to talk to a young private that was on latrine burning detail. I moved on ahead to wait in the vehicle to leave.
After waiting 45 minutes, I walked back around the corner of the building and there he was, the brigade command sergeant major standing in full battle rattle, in the blazing sun with the stirring stick in his hand, burning the waste while he talked with the soldier, and it was the private that had his Kevlar off and drinking water as they talked. And that is how I will always remember him: concerned about soldiers, involved in their well-being and never too busy to give a word of encouragement.
Though I feel great loss and heartache at his death, I also feel very fortunate to have known him and great pride to have served with him. Through my 15 years of military service, CSM Cooke was one of the very few leaders that embodied the principles that make not only a great soldier, but also a great man.
Command Sgt. Maj. Cooke, I am proud to be your brother in arms and I will never forget you.
Staff Sgt. Vincent S. Miller
1st Armored Division"
SFC Vincent S. Miller of Ft Carson CO

"CAMP COOKE,Taji Iraq 04/04-04/05 proudly served and will always remember how it got it's name. May God Bless the family and love ones."
Les Neal of Madisonville, Texas

"I was in S-3 2/63 AR with then SGM Cooke. He was a true leader, and a great man. When I ETSed, I even met a guy in North Carolina who was one of his solders about 5 years prior. Judging by that conversation, my 2st statement/sentence seems to be the consensus.

Everyone loved CSM Cooke, everyone. He was truly selfless, embodied a high degree of integrity, and was fair and mission driven.

This NCO was a stand-out - one who will truly be missed.

God Bless"
Brian Burke of Washington DC

"I first met CSM Cooke in 1997, freash out of AIT and assigned to HHT 1/1 Cav. CSM Cooke was First Sergeant Cooke at the time and met me with the smile and handshake we all got when we arrived. I served with CSM Cooke in Bosnia before moving on to Hawaii. CSM Cooke was always fair and quick to help any of his soldiers in any way possible. CSM Cooke , you will missed, as you used to tell us, "if all else fails, go left"."
SGT Jamie Wright of Olinda, Maui, HI

"It has been 5 years since that day and I still have him firm in my memory. He will always be remember by me as one of the finest leaders I have ever had the pleasure of serving under while in the Army."
Shaoun Brathwaite of Miami Florida USA

"To the family of:Eric F. Cooke I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. My heart cries out for you in your grief and you have my thoughts and prayers. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully we will all meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need prayer or need someone to talk to, please call or write my pastor: Rev. John Pearrell 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015. Your friend in Jesus Christ, Polly Ballew Covington,Ga"

"CSM COOKE,
I REMEMBER HAVING DINNER WITH YOU THE DAY BEFORE WE HAD THE MISSION...I AM HONORED TO HAVE SERVED WITH YOU...YOUR BROTHER IN ARMS...
SSG. CHAVEZ
2/3 FA - 1/36 IN - BRT"
SSG.CHAVEZ of LOS ANGELES, CA.

"I never actually met CSM Cooke, but I had heard many great things about him. I was a member of the 3rd BN/124th INF, a FL NG unit in Baghdad for most of 2003, assigned to the 1st BCT of the 1st AD. One of our squad leaders had actually served under CSM Cooke in Desert Storm and always had great things to say about him. Those things proved to be true because when he would stop by our compound, it was said that he would almost always find time to visit each OP and spend a few minutes talking to the guys on guard and was never too busy to talk to the Joes. I remember vividly the day he was killed. Our unit was a part of the blocking force for the 1st BCT conducting a sweep through the northern part of our sector. It was Christmas Eve. Shortly after dark, as the main effort was moving into place, an IED went off at the front of the element. I remember the APC medevac rushing past my squad's position to get the wounded. Several minutes later, it was coming back with it's load of wrecked soldiers, followed shortly by another truck towing the mangled humvee. We knew that whomever had been in that humvee couldn't have faired well and it proved true when we heard over the radio that it had been CSM Cooke who was fatally wounded. Then and there I felt sorrow for his family because I knew that they would never forget this day and Christmas would never be the same. To the family of CSM Cooke and to all those who have lost a loved one to this conflict, I pray that you have peace. As Robert E. Lee said, "It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it.""
SGT Jason Whittaker of Tallahassee, FL

"When I first met CSM I was standing waitng ont the IET in bus Budighen he approached me in PT's and we had a conversation I was a young private in 2000 fresh ot of basic and AIT at the end of our conversation I said my name and asked ho he was he told me and I locked up quickly and he told me to relax that he thinks all his soldiers needed to be able to talk to him as we had I have many good memories of this great man and I base my leadership skills from the way I saw him. I am a man and a soldier but the day I heard of his passing I wont lie I cried. I am not very good with words but I felt it was appropriat to leave this I am proud to say I served with CSM COOKE in 1/1Cav and I will always rember him. Blackhawk!"
Charles Moser of Moore Okla

"I never knew CSM Cooke, but when I was with D Co. 2-227th AVN REGT, 1st Cav, Taji, Iraq, I ate in his DFAC every day. I read about him and I felt the knot in my throat. When I returned to Ft Hood, I was in the Battalion S-4 and I snagged a black baseball cap the has the 1st Cav patch and has written over it, "CSM Cooke DFAC". I wear it proud and remember that fallen hero, see you on the other side CSM Cooke.
2LT Uribe"
2LT Uribe of Ft Hood, TX USA

"hello im a soldier that was assigned to 1st brigade combat team (ready first) in germany as part of the 501st fsb. i was on duty in brigde hq when the call came thru about csm cooke. i was heart broke!!!!!!!!!!! that war could take such a great soldier. i also played ping pong games w/csm cooke on at that time it was baghdad island. i was injured in iraq and lost half of my right shoulder, the point of this mess. is to let the family know that csm cooke was soldiers soldier and he had a geniune care for us (soldiers). i miss him and hope that other leaders that knew him spread his name throughout this "NEW ARMY" as to bring goodness to this army, and that a leader will always take care of hisor her soldiers regaurdless of any situation in which they find themselves. i explain to my soldiers about csm cooke and how i felt when i had duty that night of dec. 24 2003.i miss u csm cooke! ready first. hooah!!!! i send my prayers to the family.....thank u for taking the time to read this."
steven tapp (SGT) of FT. HOOD TX 3ACR

"the private sector of this great country dose not have a clue,,of what our service men and woman face,in the heat of a battle,,I am the proud son of one of this countrys greatest living soldiers,my dad is a retired CSM,and combat veteran of WWII,Korea,and veitnam,served as a marine with the 2nd division,WWII,8th ARMY Ranger ( under,then Lt. Ralph Puckett ),Korea,and 173rd Airbourne( Go,Screaming Eagles),Veitnam,( also served with the 101st and 82nd Airbourne),God created a special mold,,when he created my dad,,,a true Solders,solder,I'm as proud as him,,as I am with all you, who have served this great Country,,,as their is no higher honor,,to sacifice one;s life,,to unknown,fellow Americans,I pray for you all,and your familys,,that live in the fear of you not returning to them,and GOD speed to each and everyone of you,my father is 80years old,,and still kicking,,God bless you all.and may God always Bless our Great country.and to all who have lost a loved one,,God bless you, and be strong."
james summers of peru,in,,Miami Co.

"I dont know why God decided to take such a great man that day. i remember doin a Cordon and search on Adamia.. It was long as hell and we hadnt found much. at the end of the search it was morning , we the soldiers were all tired and so excited to go home and celebrate Christmas and the off time. When mounting back up were heard the blast and later on found out that you had died. ALL the soldiers were deeply hurt to find out that such a great CSM was killed after such a long nite and on Chrismas eve. CSM like you are almost non-existant now day.. miss ya and i know ur gettin ur army ready for the nezzt war. Im now here in Taji, Iraq Camp Taji is now Camp Cooke and the chow hall i eat in is CSM Cooke dinning Facility.. everytime i leave the FOB or eat chow i think of out success and faults. but more of ur ultimate sacrafice. when i first got to TAji and i seen you Name in BIG BOLD black letters on the side of the chow hall, i felt honor and tears. Im proud of eating in ur name and i Tell everyone that you were my CSM. thanks for the GREAT leadership! and Live it up in Heaven for us all. ill be seeing you on the other side brotha.

GOd bless the famliy , friends and Soldiers of CSM Cooke.

God Speed all!!!"
Sgt Tom Harmon of Taji ( Camp Cooke) , Iraq

"I still remember you from the "Teardrop". You always struck me as being hard as woodpecker lips. You made an impression on me and my men. You are still setting an example."
SFC Brandon Brummett of 269 MP Co, TNARNG

"CSM Cooke was a good man. i was on the patrol with him on cristmas eve. i was escorting the col. two trucks in front of him. he was a very brave man and served well, i was very proud to know him personally and serve under him. thank you!"
SPC Kiddoo,1st AD 1st BDE 1st CAV Fox Troop 2nd PLT. of peoria,az,usa

"As the anniversary of our loss again draws near, I find it hard to believe that three years have already passed. I can remember walking into the 2-37 Armor TOC in Baghdad on Christmas morning to begin my shift, when one of the young privates on duty walked up and handed me a note, which read simply: Ready 7 KIA. I slumped into a chair in utter shock and disbelief. A few days later, I was among those packed into an auditorium overflowing with grief-stricken Soldiers as we gathered to honor Commmand Sergeant Major Eric F. Cooke.
Just a few days before his death, CSM Cooke had visited our battalion, and I had the pleasure of spending a few leisurely minutes with him as we enjoyed some of his favorite cigars -- Charatan Churchills from Nicaragua. As was his habit, he carried plenty to share, and even told me where I could buy them back in Friedberg, Germany. Our battalion had been detached from the 1st Brigade shortly after arriving in Baghdad in May, and had been assigned to the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment since then. Therefore, we didn't even fall under his Brigade anymore -- yet he took the time to visit us regularly and see how things were going. He didn't have to, but he felt a sense of duty, responsibility, and ownership toward us. It didn't matter if we were on the other side of Baghdad of the opposite side of the world -- we were his Soldiers, and he would always take care of us, no matter what it took. And because of that, although he did not have to go out on Christmas Eve, he did anyway, because he cared that deeply about his Soldiers.
The relationship between junior officers and senior NCOs is unique, to say the least, and unfortunately is often soured by mutual misunderstanding if not outright contempt. In the case of CSM Cooke, I am proud to say that there was nothing but mutual respect and admiration between the two of us during the fourteen months we served together. I was privileged to benefit from his wise counsel on many occasions, particularly during my ten months on his Brigade staff, and he reinforced my strong faith in the magnificent Corps of Noncommissioned Officers. He had a way of encouraging me when I was doing the right thing, and yet gently and professionally correcting me when I was in the wrong, always taking the time to explain his thinking. It was more like talking to an uncle or a friend than to the most senior NCO in the Brigade. Despite his fully fifteen years' seniority to me in the service, he was never condescending and never sought shelter behind his rank or position. When it came to the profession of arms, he dealt with people as equals and shared the burdens accordingly. You didn't have to feel compelled to do what he said on the basis of his authority -- instead you earnestly desired to please him out of absolute loyalty. Such was his quiet yet forceful brand of leadership.
In my career I have been fortunate to meet and serve with some outstanding Soldiers -- officers, NCOs, and junior enlisted alike -- and they continue to inspire me every day. Yet, if I had to single out an individual who I believe best exhibits those traits of character we call the Army Values, the one Soldier who best represents everything good about our Army and our nation, the leader who I would most seek to emulate in my career and in my life -- I would not hesitate for a moment in naming Command Sergeant Major Eric F. Cooke. He was the consummate professional Soldier, an NCO without peer, an incredible leader, a wonderful husband and a truly great man. He is sorely missed by the thousands of us who were honored to have served alongside him in uniform. We are assuredly better people for having known him and having learned from his marvellous example. He set the standard for all others in so many ways, and as we remember the way he led his life, he continues to guide us from afar.
Perhaps there is some symmetry in the timing of his tragic loss, for he was taken from us on the same night on which we are reminded of the birth of Jesus. For just as one bright light shone down from the heavens over Bethlehem on that first Chritmas Eve long ago to herald the arrival of our Saviour who later died so young to redeem our sins, so was another bright light in our lives extinguished far too soon on that night in Baghdad. And I know that they now both look lovingly down upon us from Heaven.
I wish the Lord's blessings of peace, health, and joy upon his lovely wife Dagmar and all of his family and friends who join in remembering him in loving thought and heartfelt prayer, at this time of year and always.
With my deepest respect and eternal gratitude,"
MAJ Mark Walters of Arlington, VA

"The military lost a outstanding soldier and man that Christmas Eve. My condolences go out to CSM Cooke's family. I didn't know CSM Cooke personally, but I did have a few laughs with him when checking his ID card at the gate.I had the pleasure of meeting CSM Cooke in Buedingen Germany while I was employed by Pond's Security. CSM Cooke always brightened my day when he came through the gate. CMS Cooke was down to earth and never let his rank go to his head. I will always remember your smile. You and all my other soldiers are never far from my thoughts. You guys were the family I didn't have during some of the hardest days of my life. The soldiers in 1/1 Cav in Buedingen have saved my spirite and continue to fight for my freedom and the freedom of every American. It was an honor to have known CSM Cooke, and all the others soldiers. Thank you for all the memories guys."
Jennifer Zabel "Duckworth" of Placerville, CA USA

"I knew CSM Cooke when he was a SFC in 4/34 AR in Mainz, Germany. What I remember most about him was his quiet intensity. He was an NCO to look up to and emulate in every way. He will be missed."
Scott Lingerfelt of Glenwood City, WI

"CSM ERIC COOKE,
I was stationed in Vilseck Germany from sept 97-sept to sept 01 and during this time I was given the hoonor to meet and serve under this true NCO. Not only did he take time to mentor young Soldiers but he was the example for all to learn and grow from. I am currently a Drill Sergeant and am going to talk to them about a few things and wanted to find a article of CSM Cooke and happen to find this site and thought I would write. To his family I am truely sorry of your loss, to the US Army we lost a great leader that cannot be replaced, to our Country this is what makes America so great because of men like CSM Cooke, while some men make comments about this political party or that one, some great Americans dedicate thier life to what "we" stand for, and in the process pay the Ultimate sacrifice, no sorry or pitty is wanted, but respect must be given."
SSG (P) Bennett, Christopher A. of Ft knox, KY

"In a Nutshell

Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you . . . Jesus
Christ, and the American G.I.

One died for your soul, the other died for your freedom."
Jerry of Norman, OK/USA

"Cookie Monstor was a good guy. we were stationed in Budugen Ger. In 1991 to 1994. My husband Coyt D. PalmerII seved under him. He was a great example and my husband loved his advise as him being a young solider. We bought his yellow Mersedez Bend. His wife was a very fun loving wife and never made you feel out of place. We are now stationed in Ft.Frum and my husband is now serving his one year tour over in Afgaistan. He learned of his death while doing recrutting duty in Bentonville AR. There was this officer that knew cookie monstor and told us of his death. That really saddened us because he was the one person my husband respected and learned many lessons of life from.1/1 Cav in Budigen will always ring a good time in our married life and will always rember the times we shared with the Cooke family. You were a great man CSM Cooke and won't go on being forgotton from the Palmer family."
Tonya and Coyt Palmer II of Watertown, (Ft.Drum) NY

"I was visiting 1-1 CAV after being medically discharged when an old soldier of mine told me the news of CSM Cooke. There aren't any words to describe what I felt. CSM Cooke pinned SGT stripes on my chest in pouring rain. There's not much more to say that hasn't already been said, except that CSM Cooke was the Army. He always listened to his troopers when they had complaints, and did everything he could to correct them.

When I was recruiting in PA, I would tell people stories of gunnery, and how CSM Cooke would be there to give us our Distinguished Badges and congratulate us. I remember him calling me Shakey Jake, my nickname at the time, and always wanting to know how I was doing, how my family was. I will never forget you, CSM Cooke. And I'll see you at Fiddler's Green."
Nate Lawson of Sheridan, WY USA

"The Day i heard of CSM Cooke's death was a huge loss. He was a wonderful man and an awesome leader true to the "CAV" spirit and his soldiers. I served under him while deployed to the Balkans in 95'-96. He was my 1SG on Camp Snead. Bosnia. I was the only Female cook on his camp and he insured I was taken care of and even had some bosnian locals make me a pair of what he then called," the smallest pair of tanker boots he had ever seen". I admired his drive to always move forward and while I didn't know then I too would later become an NCO he showed me the importance of soldier care and what it means to place your soldiers needs before your own. He was an incredible leader-with his loss came a great loss to the Army. He was what everyone should strive to wanna be like. Even after I left Germany he still kept in touch with me and I was "always" his soldier. Today I recall his memory and honor. I am a leader of soldiers now. I continue to pass on to my soldiers what he did for me. His memory will always live on. -SGT (P) Contreras, Rachel 92G"
Rachel Contreras of Ft. Bliss, Texas 31st Bde.

"I just heard from an old friend in germany of the passing of CSM Cooke.
I met CSM cooke soon after i got back from Desert Storm. I had served in the 3/8 cav just down the street and had been redeployed to 4/7 cav which became 1/1 cav. Young, just back from war, having left the few friends i had made while in iraq with the 3/8 cav, CSM Cooke took the time see that i was a bit lost and out of sorts. He sat me down over a beer at the NCO club and pointed to my combat patch. He told me " Son, while you wear that patch you are my brother. It dosnt matter what unit you were in, what you did, or where you came back to, we all sucked the same sand". I had the pleasure of serving as CSM cooke's commo for the last just over a year of my time in Germany. A better man, a more comsumate soldier, or a better friend i have never met. You will be missed. Rest well brother."
Marc Nielsen 1/1 cav commo of Kansas City, Missouri, USA

"CSM Cooke, you were an inspiration to us all. The time and effort you put into my development as a lieutenant, then a First Command advisor, and finally a reactivated reservist in Iraq is something I will never forget. I don't think there is an NCO that took his job more seriously, loved his soldiers more, or would put himself out front as often. Our Army was weakened when you had left our ranks. God bless you! Blackhawk!!!"
CPT Steve Selman, USAR of Wiesbaden, Germany

"Sgt. Maj. Cook,

I met you once in a chow hall and you sat down and talked to me not as a Sargent Major, but as an old buddy. Ill never forget that. God bless you."
Spc. Matthew Cox of 69th Chem. 1AD

"I served with then SFC Eric F. Cooke in A Company 4-34 Armor in Mainz Germany. A man of few but powerful words, he was the example of everything I would strive to be as a senior NCO. I remember him as someone who always worked to improve himself in every manner, although he seemed to me the "perfect soldier". When our unit received notice that we were deploying to Desert Storm we were both enrolled in college courses. After the notification, I disenrolled from the courses to concentrate my efforts on preparation for the deployment. When SFC Cooke found out, he had a "talk" with me about it. He stayed enrolled and finished his courses early to meet the needs of the deployment, while readying the best platoon in our company. This was another example of how this great soldier wouldn't quit. He saw the potential of every soldier around him, even if they couldn't, and nudged them to achieve that potential. THAT is great leadership!
When I read of his death, I was shocked. He had an aura of almost invincibility about him; the greatest soldier among great soldiers. Since he was a man who always put the needs of his soldiers above his own, the circumstances surrounding his death do not surprise me. He was doing what he did best; looking out for his soldiers. GOD BLESS YOU, CSM COOKE! You will always be in the hearts and minds of those you led!"
SFC Rex Kessel of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington DC

"I served under CSM Cooke in 1/1 Cav from '96 to '99, before being deployed to Ft. Lewis. Even then, I told anecdotes of CSM Cooke, because he was the "ultimate soldier." He had more motivational quips than John Wayne, and his concern for training the young soldiers remains unparalleled. I was saddened to hear of his death - not only for the sake of this fine soldier and his family, but also for the loss to future generations of soldiers who will lack CSM Cooke's influence. That having been said, he influenced so many of the US Army's finest that his legacy is assured."
Russell Day of Oklahoma City, OK

"God's peace and blessings be to you, the family of CSM Cooke. I served with CSM Cooke in 1st Brigade Central Baghdad as a SGT, I have nothing but good memories of this man and can remember specifically on a task force mission, right before we departed I approached my first seargent who happened to be standing next to CSM Cooke, who had this everpresent grin, that let you immediately know that he enjoyed being a soldier and leading soldiers immensely, when he looked at me , and I couldn't figure out for the world of me why CSM Cooke, our Brigade CSM was staring at my head, I realized that there must be something wrong with my appearance and upon a brief inspection of my gear I quickly discovered that my chin strap was cockeyed. I immediately fixed the deficiency and CSM Cooke responded with "I was wondering how long it was going to take you to fix that thing son, good job." CSM Cooke didn't even have to speak and I knew there was something wrong. Now that's what I call a leadership attribute, if ever there was one. Once again to the family of CSM Cooke, I learned of this unfortunately and untimely passing while preparing for a pcs move and was deeply saddened by the loss, as was everyone who worked with and knew CSM Cooke, God's Peace be upon you.

2LT BUSH
B.CO 1/4, PL
U.S.ARMY INF"
Lashon Bush of Hohenfels Germany

"Since I heard of CSM Cooke's passing, I have been trying to find the words to write, or say about him. In the short time that I was able to serve with him I grew to admire and respect him, perhaps more than almost any other Military leader. To this day I credit him for many of my life's lessons. I served under "TOP" Cooke in Budingen, Germany. I was BlackHAWK 6D. His ever present smile, his love for God and for the USA were always uplifting. He was a true soldier. And he was 100% CAV. In fact, I bet right now he is at Fiddler's Green, taking care of our fallen. He will help guide all the souls of the Cavalrymen who have given all. Top Cooke, you are a true American Hero. I will remember you, and what you taught me. Thank you. May God bless your family and the United States of America."
Kristopher R. Holien of Gig Harbor, WA USA

"I had the great privelage to serve under CSM Cooke, I also had the honor to be promoted to SGT by him. I was pulling 24 gaurd duty in Buedingen after just getting back from PLDC it was the October following Sept 11 so things were very tight, I got off at 0400 it was still dark and cold german morning and here is CSM cooke standing tall with a smile on his face. After I go promoted he pulled me aside of the formation and had a heart to heart with me about what it meant to be a leader. Still to this day I get tears in my eyes to know that he is no longer able to do what he loved , being with his soldiers with the CAV. I will never forget you sergeant major, you are my hero and I know that your passion for the Army and soldiers will live on through all the soldiers who's life you touched. Godbless you "BLACKHAWK""
RUEDA of CLEVELAND, OH

"I remember CSM Cooke while I was assigned at 1-1 CAV,HHT from May 99 to May 02. The best memory I have of him was when I graduated PLDC, no one for our unit was there to see us just a Sergeant to tell us "Guess what you are going to CMTC in 2 days". Needless to say I was kind of disappointed. But when I got to CMTC CSM Cooke called us and expressed to us how proud he was of all of us and apologized for not being able to attend the graduation. I remember thinking to myself; this is a CSM who really does care for this soldiers in this unit. Thank you CSM Cooke for the all the memories and rest in peace. See you at the Fiddler's Green."
SGT(P) AGUILAR, GREG of Ft Bliss, Tx

"Condolences to the family, friends, and fellow soldiers of CSM Eric F. Cooke. I have just learned within the last few minutes of writing this message (21 Apr 05) of his passing. A great man has left us. I served under this great leader from '94-'96 while stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia (Delta Co. 2/69 Armor). You know when you get asked from time to time about a teacher or supervisor or someone who really inspired you as leader? Well I still think of CSM Eric F. Cooke. Under his leadership when he was the First Sergeant of Delta company, we were the best company in the battalion and we knew it! I remember one day (I think during morning PT) he marched us right through one of the other company's areas calling cadences loud and clear for everyone to hear. All they could do was watch and listen to us as we proudly sounded off! Another time we were getting ready to leave on a deployment to Saudi Arabia (Operation Vigilant Warrior), now I don't remember if it was the day we left or it could have been a few days prior, but he must have seen and sensed the somber mood and the worry of soldiers. He said something like "it's a great day to be a soldier in the US Army". And now I say that that was a great day to be a soldier in the US Army under Eric F. Cooke. He will be missed, but his impact and memory not forgotten."
Eric Espinosa of Covina, California

"To the family of CSM Eric F Cooke,

There is not a day that goes by that I would not have taken his place out there. I served with him in Iraq and everyday his face stays in my mind. He told me before he left to "hold the fort", so I did. Early Christmas morning I recieved the news and was devestated. I cannot recall a single smile from any soldier that Christmas day. It has been almost 2 years now and it still sends me to tears like it happened yesterday. Everyday his memory lives on through us, through everyone he touched. He was a man of honor, a man of courage and he will never be forgotten. Thank you for everything that you did, and all the joy you brought us..."
Jason E Hudson of Bristol, Rhode Island

"The first time I met CSM Cooke, myself and two of my buddies were walking to the Friedberg PX. Two SGMs were walking toward us and we said, "good afternoon," and the Brigade OPs SGM asked us if we knew who his companion was. We said we didn't (he had just became new BDE CSM the day before so we had never seen him before). CSM Cooke introduced himself and he shook our hands and starting chanting with us and when we departed he told us that if we ever say good morning to us and he doesn't respond we could drop him for 10 push-ups. That one and only time I ever talked with him has stayed with me. He was a man to respect because he respected you. I had rotated home from Iraq in November and my buddy (one who was with me that day we talked to CSM Cooke) called on the 26th on a sattelite phone and told me. I was shocked so bad that I just dropped the phone and started to cry. I just felt so guilty at being home and celebrating Christmas with my family. I will never forget him for the rest of my life. And I wish his family the best in life. "READY FIRST""
Pvt. Alex Haslacker of Romney, WV

"I was a young PVT stationed at Fort Benning Georgia from 1993-1995. When I arrived at Delta Company 2-69 Armor SFC Cooke was my PLT SGT. He then became the XO (temporary) and then got frocked to 1SG. I was deployed to operation Vigilant Warrior with him in late 1994. If there truly was a tanker god this man was it. No matter what the time of day you could ask him something and he always had to time for his soldier's. He was truly one of the most knowledgeable people I have ever met. I'll never forget some of the stories he told me from the 1st gulf war. This man was truly a hero. He exceeded EVERY and I mean EVERY aspect of the word. He was one of the most caring, quiet professionials that I have ever met. It seems like just yesterday he handed me my PCS award and my going away plaque. There is so much more about him I can say but words just aren't enough. The day he passed the U.S Army lost one of the finest Senior NCO's that it had ever seen. So I leave you with this. CSM Eric Cooke rest in peace and may the MAD DAWG be with you always my friend."
SSG Paul Nye of Puyallup, Washington

"Its take me a long time to sit down and to try to say the right words about a great leader and in some ways a friend. I served with CSM Cooke in A Trp 1-1 Cav. After Sept 11 the Cav pulled alot of gaurd dutys all over the Budingen/Hanau area. There was one night I found out that my father was going to pass. I went to gaurd duty and handed over my round b/c I felt unstable. CSM Cooke came out to that site on a cold Jan day told every one in the tent to get out just to talk to me. He said "My name is Eric just like you and Im hear as a freind" I will never forget that day or the day I found out that CSM had past. Thank you for every thing Eric. You were a true leader and a great friend!"
Eric Mizner of Budingen, Germany

"CSM, how may days did you walk into my hooch, grab a cup of coffee and mentor 1SG Bill Tickle and I about leadership and taking care of soldiers? Like I told everyone in the Squadron during my farewell speach "you are my mentor and a great friend." Fasching will never be the same."
MAJ Geoffrey Schmalz of Blackhawk land

"CSM Cooke was great man. He was with my unit on several raids. That alone was enough to tell me that he went on missions with everyone in the BDE, one platoon or company at a time. I first met him in Graf. He was the 1/1 Cav CSM. I was the Tank Crew Evaluator NCOIC and would be grading his tankers. He asked me to give them a tough but fair eval...and at that point I knew that he cared about his soldiers. I normally don't know much about the higher ranking guys in the Army. He made it a point to know about me. That was also something truly unusual.

CSM Cooke, your much needed leadership will be missed by the Army. You are missed by all that you touched.
Give No Quarter"
SFC J. McCree of San Antonio, Texas

"1/21/05
Reading all of the messages left for Eric, I have come to know what a brave, selfless, loved person he truly was. Americans owe Eric our sincere gratitute for his service and for instilling in all who met him, "duty, honor, country". If those cowards who ambush and run would stand and fight, our troops would be home next week. God Bless you Eric for what you did for the rest of us. You are a true hero and we will not forget you."
The Shaw family of Pasadena, Maryland

"I was shocked and deeply saddend to hear of CSM Cook's death. I served under him in HHT 1/1 Cav in Buedingen Germany. CSM Cooke was a senior NCO that led with heart and strong character. He taught me many fine qualities that all soldiers should have. He will be deeply missed. I am a better person and soldier for having known CSM Cooke. He did not die in vain and he will never be forgotten."
SFC J Smith of Albuquerque, Nm

"I have just received a Hero's Bracelet with the name of Sgt. Maj. Eric F. Cooke. I am proud to wear it and grateful to Sgt. Maj. Cooke for his supreme sacrifice. His family and friends must be missing him a great deal and I wish to offer my condolences to them. Thank you Eric."
Mary Ellen Lysak of Atlanta, Georgia/USA

"To the family of SGM Cooke my condolences. I served with SGM Cook when he was my 1ST SGT. in HHT 1-1 Cav. Buedingen Germany "Hawg Troop". He will be missed and I am Proud to have served under his leadership."
SGT. Larry Curl of HHC 1-34 AR Fort Riley KS.

"I served with Eric Cooke in D co 2/69 armor 24th mech Ft.Benning from 91 to 93. I was shocked to hear of his death,the ARMY and our country have truly lost a great man.But it is men like Eric who have kept this country free and set an example for young men like myself.your family will always be in my prayers.rest in peace Eric."
JAMES CULLEN of MARLBORO,MA

"CSM Cooke was a great NCO. I remember a time he was "talking" to me about a mistake that a soldier had made while shooting gunnery at Graf. He asked me exactlly what happen and I replied "The Platoon Leader had given the orders." He looked me square in the eyes and said "NCO's are responsible for soldiers and if you ever blame an officer again I will punch you in the face." He then patted me on the shoulder and said " Keep up the good work" and dismissed me. Not too long ago I came across a memo he gave to me when I in processed 1-1 CAV that is titled "Non Commissioned Officer's Standards." It was a list of lessons and rules he had learned over his time in the Army. One of them was "Get mad, and then get over it. Anger gets in the way of positive decision making." This is one of the many lessons I learned from this great man. Thanks for teaching me to be a better NCO Sergeant Major. My heart goes out to his family. Rest in peace."
SGT Grant Pratt of Ft Leonard Wood MO

"To The Family of CSM Cooke:
I just want to thank you for the sacrifice you have made. I am the mother of a soldier who was with CSM Cooke on Christmas Eve. My son was devastated. He truly thought his commander was the greatest and spoke very highly of him."
Beth McStravock of Washington Twp., NJ/USA

"Thank-you CSM Cooke for all that you have given to the soldiers of the US Army. You were a soldier's soldier. As I read the stories of your selfless acts I am so very touched. The Army has many terrific NCO's and based on what I read you were top-notch! We pray for you and your family. Also, I ask for prayers for the military personnel in ongoing operations throughout the world. May God bring them home safe. Thanks again for all that you have done for our great country CSM Cooke!"
MAJ Donna Rojas/Army Nurse of San Antonio, TX

"Thank you for sharing yourself with the rest of the Ready 1st BDE. Long will your memory go on. Sleep well my friend."
Proud Crusader Wife 2/37AR of Friedberg Germany

"I served with CSM Eric Cooke in Vilseck with 2-63 Armor, where he was the Operations Sergeant Major. As a young 1SG, I went to him countless times for his advise, counsel and mentoring. He always had time for me, and he never failed to provide me all the right answers. I've spent the last few years trying to follow the examples he set. I think of him almost daily, and try to be the type of leader he was in everything I do. He is an irreplaceable influence in my life, I miss him dearly, and I will never forget him. May the Lord look upon him with favor, and give him peace. May God Bless Dagmar, his mother Georgia, and his entire family."
SGM Carl Johnson of Fort Stewart, Georgia

"CSM Cooke was everything I ever want to be as an NCO. I believe his mentorship and guidance is what has gotten me this far. CSM Cooke always had time to talk, he made a point to stop you and ask you why you have not said hi in a day or two! I want to express my sincere condolences to the Cooke family. I wish I could do something to help with the pain; CSM did so much for me! I will truly miss him as well.

"...For none but the shades of Cavalrymen Dismount at Fiddlers' Green!"
I know you're there CSM..."
SSG(P) Alexander Heller of Sandy, Oregon

"God bless and strengthen the family of Eric F. Cooke who I became acquainted with December 28 when my grandson Andy was speaking at our church of his adventures in Baghdad and shared his sorrow in losing one of his commanding officers. He spoke highly of this man as he ask our church family to lift Eric's family and fellow soldiers up in prayer> Thanksgiving time I had the privilege of visiting my daughter, Rachel in Budingen, Germany where she and two little girls await their fathers return from Baghdad, Irag where he is serving with Troop A (Apache) 1-1 Cav> Thank you Georgia for reminding me that not everyone thinks like the media and/or political adds tell us and that there are those citizens that approve, even though dismayed, of "stopping the terrorists on their doorstep"> I pray that God strengthens you all daily knowing Eric was a true "HERO" and that he did not die in vain. Again God Bless you all.
Claudia Campbell-Erie County, Pa."
Claudia Campbell of Mill Village, Pa, Erie

"To the family of CSM Eric F. Cooke,
I graduated with Eric (Class 49)United States Army Sergeants Major Academy. I will continue to lift the Cooke family in prayer. He will never be forgotten."
CSM Vera F. Harris of Al Kut, Iraq

"I was Eric Cooke's gunner on the M1 Tank in the first Gulf War. We lived on that tank together for six months, sleeping under the stars. We became so close that I saw him as a father. I was a 25 year old Sergeant and was a Sergeant First Class of about 31. Eric was always a gentleman and role model. He was a very gifted soldier and even greater human being. I loved him dearly and have thought of him often over the past 12 years. I was deeply sadened when I saw his name and photo among the casualties. He often spoke about "Walter" a fictious person he looked to when he needed help with a decision. What would Walter do he'd say. He always told me, there's only one way do the right thing, and thats one situation at a time. Eric lived as he wanted others to live. With a clean mind, right spirit, and just heart. I know that he is at the right hand of God as I type. I could go on forever talking about my friend Eric. My thoughts are with his wife, parents, and brothers. Gods Speed, meet you on the high ground."
Paul Williams of Sweetwater, Tennessee

"Sergeant Major Cooke, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"I was there. 75 yards in front of me. The bomb went off. I was on point. I should of been in that mix. But for some reason... it wasn't my time. Long story for me I guess."
Larry Hackney of Pensacola, Fl.

"To the friends and Family of CSM Cooke,
I had the true privilege of serving with CSM Cooke while I was stationed in Budingen, Germany. In the twenty years I served in the Army, I never met a more squared away CSM. CSM Cooke was the kind of leader that we all aspired to be. His kindness, compassion and and true concern for the well being of his soldiers touched lives that will be affected for generations to come. He was a true Cavalryman and will be missed by all. "Blackhawk""
SFC(R) Ricky Clark of Copperas Cove, Texas

"When I found out that CSM Eric F. Cooke was killed in Iraq, I did something I don't do very often at all any more. I cried. CSM Cooke was more than just my First Sergeant when I was in HHT, 1-1 Cav. He was my friend. I have never met a more professional and model NCO in my career in the Army. It was his guidance and leadership that contributed greatly to my as far successful career in the Army. Here is a message that CSM Cooke sent me a while ago that I kept, that I think people would like:
Hey Y'all,

Sometimes, we wonder why friends keep forwarding jokes to us without writing a word, maybe this could explain:

When you are very busy, but still want to keep in touch, guess what you do-- you forward jokes.

When you have nothing to say, but still want to keep contact, you forward jokes.

When you have something to say, but don't know what, and don't know how, You forward jokes.

To let you know that: you are still remembered, you are still important, you are still loved, you are still cared for, you are still wanted, guess what you get? A forwarded joke from me.

So my friend, next time if you get a joke, don't think that I have sent you just a joke, but that I have thought of you today.

Love to all,

Eric...


My heart goes out to the family of CSM Eric F. Cooke."
SSG Anthony R. Franke of Fort Riley, KS

"CSM Cooke was my Brigade CSM while I was stationed in Germany and deployed to Iraq with 1st Bn, 37th Armor. I was shocked to hear that he was killed by an IED but was fortunate to be given the opportunity to know him and serve with him. He was a great mentor to all that would go the extra mile for his Soldiers. He will forever be missed and remembered by all that knew him.

To his family and close friends,"God Bless you and my the memories that you all shared with him ease your pain"."
SFC Peter Johnson of Ft Huachuca, AZ

"To the family & friends of CSM Eric F. Cooke: He was a Professional, Leader, Friend and Classmate of the Class of 49, from the US Army Sergeants Major Academy. I personally enjoyed all that Eric shared with us during Group Life 2, based on his first-hand-experiences from numerous deployments around the globe. He was truly a warrior, who'll NEVER be forgotten by ALL who met/knew him. We will continue to pray for ALL of you, as you carry-on in his absence."
SGM Roger L. Yelverton of Fort Monroe, VA

"Sgt Major Cooke:
Thank your for giving yourself so that those of us at home can live freely and safely. There are not enough 'thank yous' for a gift such as this. Rest in peace soldier."
Dan and Meg Manninen of San Antonio, Texas

"CSM COOKE WAS MY SEARGEANT MAJOR WHEN I LEFT BUDINGEN,GE 1-1 CAV. I KNOW HE LOVED THE CAV ,HE LOVED 1-1 CAV. I WAS VERY SAD WHEN I FOUND HIS NAME ON THE FALLEN HEROES LIST.. HE WAS TRULY A GREAT PERSON A GREAT SOLDIER. I WILL NOT FORGET HIM!!! GOD BLESS HIM AND HIS FAMILY. SGT BONAPARTE APACHE TROOP 1-1 CAV SUPPLY."
SGT BONAPARTE of FORT JACKSON ,SC

"To the family and friends:
Army Command Sgt. Major Eric F. Cooke's life will not be forgotten!
Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you in your sorrow.
May God's love and peace be with you."
Pat and Sandi B of Montana

"It's hard to find words that can describe what a sense of loss and emptiness that soldiers and I feel with Eric's death. Eric was a true friend and mentor for myself and other senior NCOs. I learned more about being a good NCO from Eric than I did in all of my formal military training. He truly loved his country, his soldiers, and his beloved Dagmar. Over the past few weeks many people have approached me about the Army's loss with Eric's death. Through out all of the conversations I have had ranging from privates to Generals, I have not heard any negative comments about this great soldier. Just the opposite, they go into great stories of how he helped them with problems, spent extra time mentoring them, and how he was never to busy to extend himself to soldiers. Eric was a great NCO but more importantly he was a great American that through his daily actions showed his compassion and love for others."
Dave Davenport of Budingen, Germany

"I came upon this site by chance and am moved by it. As the mother of CSM Eric F. Cooke it is comforting to see that others share my sense of loss. For 43 years 2 months and 1 day I had the son every mother dreams of. Now I have the memory of a man that fulfilled the oath he took. And after the funeral this past Monday I said goodbye to a number of Officers and NCOs that were rushing to planes for their return to Baghdad, to the very streets that took my son's life. My prayers go with them. They will need them. This is not over yet. And as long as one of Eric's troopers is in harm's way, my job isn't over either. My job is to encourage and inspire and support those that are doing what I will never be asked to do - lay down my life for others. You know, folks, if we do not stop the terrorist on his doorstep, it is our doorstep he will kick down, sooner or later, just that simple.

Years ago, right after Eric returned from Desert Storm, we were doing that thing we so often did – drink coffee, smoke cigarettes and talk the long night through. At one point I asked him what most motivated him when things got dicey, when bullets were flying. He considered the question for a moment. His eyes gathered moisture as he replied. “Maw, I believe The United States and her people are worth dying for.”

He was and is my hero who encourages me to love what he loved. That was his great power - he loved. He loved his wife of 23 years, Dagmar. He loved me without question. He loved his soldiers. He loved. He died for love.

Now I'm taking a chance that Eric would shake his finger at me over, but, here goes. I would like to speak to CSM Joe McGee so I am listing my email address for him to contact me. If you are not CSM McGee and you email me, you have done so without invitation and I will be most disappointed in that. cookegf@msn.com."
Mrs. Georgia F. Cooke of Molalla, Oregon

"Kathy and I flew to Arlington from Nebraska to be with our friend and soldier CSM Eric F. Cooke. No one was more a role model than he was, and he always looked after his soldiers and friends. We will miss him, but he will stay close to our hearts everyday because Eric was a special person that cared and soldiered for his country and he truly was a soldiers Command Sergeant Major. He was the flame of a true example of what a Non Commissioned Officer is suppose to be, and he displayed it everyday of his life in the Military. Hearing fellow CSM's at his funeral stating remarks of what it was like to serve with Eric as their Brigade CSM, and things he did for his soldiers brought tears to my eyes because he was a true leader and set the example for others to follow. I was glad to be his friend and will miss him truly."
CSM (R) Joe McGee of Bellevue Nebraska

"I did not know CSM Cooke but I am sure by the descriptions of his actions listed on this page that he was one of those individuals who made a huge difference in the lives of the people he knew. Know that you the remaining family have our sympathy and he will always have our heartfelt respect and admiration. As a civilan here in the states we go thru our lives day to day doing whatever our job or occupation requires of us. Sometimes we may make a difference sometimes not. Afganastan and Iraq are free from the rule of criminals and mass murderers because of people like CSM Cooke. You should rest assured that he has made a difference, a far larger difference than many people will ever make, and that we are ever thankful."
Dale Dorsey of Charlotte NC USA

"To the Cooke Family of Scottsdale, AZ:
Our hearts and prayers go out to you in this difficult time. CSM Cooke's bravery and selfless service will never be forgotten by us or our children. From reading the previous messages we can tell that he was a very giving and compassionate person. God bless and keep you."
The Cooke Family of Gilbert, AZ/USA

"CSM Cooke was the complete Noncommisioned Officer. In the short time I served with him in Vilseck, Germany I often found myself looking up up to him in many ways. He was, and still is an example of how every soldier should conduct themselves. The mention of his name always brought something good in his direction from my peers, and officers alike. These are words like mentor, and professional. His care for soldiers in general was as strong as I have ever witnessed in my tour in the Army. After hearing the circumstances of his death it does not suprise me on what he was doing. God surely blessed us by giving us such a wonderful person, and I could only wish that I would be admired and respected as he is. My sympathies pour out to his family, and God bless you."
SFC Harley C. Crawford, Jr. of Fort Knox, Ky.

"I was proud to meet Eric in 1989 stationed in Mainz Germany, and we became best of friends and he truly was the definition of a Non Commissioned Officer that cared for his soldiers and always focused towards their success. If someone could ever ask what a role model is? Than the answer would be CSM Eric F, Cooke. I will miss him and always remember him as a soldiers leader. He was a friend, a NCO, and a soldier that many admire. I will miss him and will never forget him."
CSM (R) Joe McGee of Bellevue, Nebraska, Sarpy County

"SGM Cooke,
Didnt relly get to know you that good..but I did enjoy that small talk we made that one night you patrolled with my section and I on Pluto Rd. I admit .I was nervous, but in all you made it easy to talk to you and even joke. I appreciate that. Well, I hope to see you up there and we'll patrol the streets of heaven together again. Thanks for all you've done and did. See you later.....Duty,Honor,Country,NCO's"
Sgt Michael J Goss of Giessen Germany en route to Ft Hood Tx (Left Baghdad 7th of Dec )

"There seem to be so few heroes today; I wanted to tell you about one- Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Eric Cooke of the 1st Armored Division. CSM Cooke died Christmas Eve when a roadside bomb ripped into his Humvee north of Baghdad on a convoy to Samara. He was 43.

CSM Cooke was working to arrange transport for 3100 pounds of school supplies amassed by the Rotary Club of Rome, GA. In an e-mail, CSM wrote that he had not signed up for the two week leave available to soldiers deployed to Iraq for a year because he could not take the leave knowing that one of his men would then not receive his leave. CSM Cooke said that he was lucky to have a loving wife who would understand why he was not coming home on leave.

On the day he died, CSM Cooke heard that an injured soldier was in urgent need of O+ blood, so he rushed to the field hospital to donate his blood. He almost missed the convoy going to Samara.

CSM Cooke had the opportunity to have an armored Humvee, but chose to give it to his men so they would be protected during armed escort duty, patrols, and raid operations. His selfless service knew no limits.

If you and I knew the day when we would die, we might change the way we were living as that day approached. CSM Cooke didn’t need to change a thing- he lived each of his days in a selfless and noble manner. Every soldier’s death is a tragedy, but this one seems especially sad.

CSM Cooke will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on January 5, 2004 at 3 p.m. Please take a minute at that time to say a prayer for Eric and his family."
Lucy Edmondson of Rocky Mount, NC

"Thank you Eric Cooke, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"CSM Cooke was a leader with unquestionable loyalty to his soldiers, Army, and country, an example and role model for all to follow and learn from. All soldiers, seniors, junior enlisted and officers looked up to him and respected him for the warrior leader he was, he was living the NCO Creed with deeds. We will not forget your sacrifice...rest in peace "Ready Seven""
CSM Wilfred Placeres, 16th Armored Engineer Battalion of Baghdad, Iraq

"If I may speak on behalf of all the soldiers who served above, beside and under CSM Eric F. Cooke, he was one of the greatest, the greatest to me, men ever known. He was a soldier's soldier, a leader above leaders, and a man with a heart that could not be measured. He taught those around him to think of others before you thought of yourself. He wasn't comfortable unless his soldiers were comfortable. I was blessed to know him as 1SG Cooke, Hawg7, and will never forget HHT 1-1 CAV's moto which he created, and was yelled out at the beginning of every formation, "Hawg Wild!" My heart, thoughts, and prayers are with Dagmar Cooke and the rest of CSM Eric F. Cooke's family. God has blessed all those that Eric had touched, and I am comforted to know he is with our Father in heaven."
Michael John Lanyon(Hawg7D) of New Bern, NC/USA

"CSM COOKE,

WAS A SOLDIER'S CSM AND HE WAS ADMIRED AND LOOKED UP TO BY ALL THE ENLISTED WHO KNEW WHAT THE MEANING OF TRUE SOLDIERING WAS. I'M SO SADDENED BY THIS NEWS AND WAS DEFINITELY LOOKING FORWARD TO HIM MOVING UP HIGH IN THE CSM RANKS. MY HEART IS DEEPLY SADDENED BY THIS NEWS AND I AM TERRIBLY SORRY FOR YOUR LOST. MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND COMFORT YOU IN YOUR TIME OF NEED."
SSG MONTAGUE WILLIAMS of SAVANNAH, GA.

"To the family of CSM Cooke:
My name is Donna Gilmore and my husband SGM Cornell Gilmore was killed in Iraq on 7 Nov 03. I know your pain is so intense that it seems surreal. Please know that I and a lot of others are praying for your strength right now. God Bless you and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain you during this dark hour."
Donna Gilmore of Stafford, Virginia

"To the family and friends of Command Sgt. Major Eric Cooke:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Eric for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Command Sgt. Major Eric Cooke:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Eric, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on