August 31, 2023 - Stories

Portrait of a Hero –
John Cook

John Cook was born in 1928 in Ohio, celebrating his 95th birthday in June. He attended Culver Military Academy for high school and went on to Stanford University earning his degree in Economics. He met his wife there; they were married for 68 years before her passing.

He was called to active duty in 1951 as a 2nd Lieutenant after being in the ROTC at Stanford. He was a forward observer in the field artillery in support of a company of several hundred men. He lived with the infantry on the front lines of the conflict. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant as Assistant Operations Officer. During his time in Korea, there was mostly severe artillery fire with battles for high ground. Following Korea, he was sent to Washington DC for the Civil Affairs/ Military Government and trained at Georgetown University for Middle East affairs. He served as Arts, Monuments and Archives Officer. His career in the military was motivated by “the structure and discipline of the military, always underlying the patriotism that most understood.” 

Following the military, he returned to Ohio and his wife and son who he saw for the first time when the baby was 9 months old.  He helped manage his family’s department store that was founded in the Civil War. He retired in 1984 to Tucson on his doctor’s orders to move to the desert for his lungs. After he retired, he corresponded with Wang Fu Chai who was in the Chinese Army assigned to Korea, the grandfather of John’s grand daughter-in-law. John closed his letter “from one old soldier to another – now your friend.”  Wang Fu Cai closed his letter “Your never met friend.”  

Since 2008 he has been active in the Splendido Academic Program. He has also been active in the Splendido Scholarship program providing scholarships to employees and their families.

When asked what he sees as necessary for the future, he responded “We need to come to some agreement with China and learn to work together.” John closed our time together saying, “The emerging generation may not be as prepared as we were. Things are changing so rapidly. Change is something we can all look forward to and I’m cautiously optimistic about the future.”

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