COOK, WILMER PAUL
Remains Returned 21 June 1988, ID Announced 28 September 1989

Name: Wilmer Paul Cook
Rank/Branch: O4/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 155, USS CORAL SEA (CVA-43)
Date of Birth: 01 October 1932
Home City of Record: Annapolis MD
Date of Loss: 22 December 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 182801N 1055129E (WF906419)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4E
Refno: 0945
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project with the assistance of one or more
of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews: 15
March 1990. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998.

REMARKS:

The McDonnell Douglas A4 Skyhawk was intended to provide the Navy and Marine
Corps with an inexpensive, lightweight attack and ground support aircraft.
The design emphasized low-speed control and stability during take-off and
landing, as well as strength enough for catapult launch and carrier
landings. The plane was so compact that it did not need folding wings for
aboardship storage and handling.

LCdr. Wilmer P. Cook was the pilot of an A4E from Attack Squadron 155 on
board the USS CORAL SEA. On December 22, 1967, LCdr. Cook launched from the
carrier on a combat mission over North Vietnam. His was the only aircraft
assigned to the mission.

According to the U.S. Navy, because  no other aircraft accompanied LCdr.
Cook that day, it is not known exactly what happened to him on that day.
LCdr. Cook was lost, but no details are available. He was classified Killed
In Action/Body Not Recovered, even though no information explaining this
determination is included in public records available from the U.S. Navy.
The last known position of Cook and his aircraft was over Ha Tinh Province,
approximately 20 miles southeast of the city of Vinh.

(NOTE: In a second U.S. Navy summary of this incident, Cook's aircraft was
hit by ground fire and crashed north, northwest of Ha Tinh, Nghe Tinh,
Province Vietnam, and "the other crewmember of another aircraft observed the
aircraft crash.Search and rescue helicopter was driven away by small arms
fire.")

The Defense Intelligence Agency further expanded the classification of
Killed in Action by adding an enemy knowledge factor indicator of 2.
Category 2 was generally applied to cases in which personnel were "lost in
areas or under such conditions that they may reasonably be expected to be
known by the enemy", of "identified through analysis of all-source
intelligence."

Cook's family waited for the war to end. They understood that the
possibility existed that their men might have been captured. Even though
they did not hear from them, they knew that many were known to be prisoner
who had never been allowed to write home.

In 1973, 591 American prisoners were released from communist prison camps in
Southeast Asia, but Cook was not among them. The Vietnamese denied any
knowledge of his fate.

On June 21, 1988, the Vietnamese returned the remains of LCdr. Wilmer P.
Cook to U.S. control. For over 22 years - dead or alive - LCdr. Cook had
been a captive in enemy hands.

Since American involvement in Indochina ended in 1975, over 10,000 reports
have been received related to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many
authorities are convinced beyond doubt that hundreds remain alive in
captivity. Cook did not return home alive. One can imagine how he would feel
about those who are still alive and the lengths he would go to help them to
freedom. What are we doing to bring our men home?


Lieutenant Commander Cook graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy on June 7,
1956.

Lieutenant Commander Cook was awarded the following decorations:
Distinguished Flying Cross Gold Star in lieu of the second Distinguished
Flying Cross Gold Star in lieu of the third Distinguished Flying Cross Air
Medal (Bronze Star in lieu of the First Award) Air Medal (Gold in lieu of
the Second Award) Air Medal (Gold Star in lieu of the Third Award) Air Medal
(Gold Star in lieu of the Fourth Award) Air Medal (Gold Star in lieu of the
Fifth Award) Air Medal (First through Fourteenth Strike/Flight Awards) Air
Medal (Fifteenth Strike/ Flight Award) Navy Commendation Medal with Combat
Distinguishing Device Gold Star in lieu of the second Navy Commendation
Medal with combat Distinguishing Device Gold Star in lieu of the third Navy
Commendation Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device Gold Star in lieu of
the fourth Navy Commendation Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device Purple
Heart

In addition he earned the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam
Service Medal and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon Bar during his
naval service.