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Gilbert Richard Cook, born in Texarkana (Miller County), was a career U.S. Army officer who served in France in World War I and as deputy commander of George S. Patton’s Third Army during World War II.
Gilbert R. Cook was born on December 30, 1889, in Texarkana, the son of attorney Joseph E. Cook and Mary A. Young Cook. He attended local schools but was drawn toward a military career, the result, perhaps, of being the grandson of men who had served in both the Confederate and U.S. armies. He was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1908, graduating on June 12, 1912, after serving as a cadet sergeant and playing on the academy’s baseball and football teams. He married Doris Adair Frederick on September 2, 1914, and they had at least two children. She died in 1936.
After duty in Texas, the Panama Canal Zone, and Indiana, Cook served in France during World War I, a sixteen-month tour of duty in which he led the Second Battalion of the Fifty-Eighth Infantry Regiment through five major actions, culminating in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in the last months of the war. He was promoted to captain on May 15, 1917, though he also received temporary promotions to major and lieutenant colonel during the war. Cook received the French Croix de Guerre for his actions in World War I. He was officially promoted to major in the regular army in 1920.
Between the world wars, Cook served at bases in Germany, Georgia, Kansas, and Maryland, and taught classes at the Georgia Institute of Technology and at Fort Benning, Georgia. He attended the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in the mid-1920s and participated in Tank School at Fort Meade, Maryland, in 1930–31, where he met his future commander, George Patton. Cook attended the Army War College in Washington DC in 1931–1932, then served on the War Department General Staff from 1932 to 1936. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1935.
Cook was in command of the Twenty-First Infantry Regiment at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941, and served as assistant commander of the Twenty-Fifth Infantry Division beginning in April 1942. Returning to the United States, Cook commanded the 104th Infantry Division in Oregon in 1942–1943, being promoted to major general on August 10, 1942.
He was made commander of the XII Corps in October 1943, seeing it through training in South Carolina and Tennessee before leading it to England, where it became part of the U.S. Third Army. Cook also became deputy commander of the Third Army under Patton and served in the Normandy and northern France campaigns before a circulatory illness in August 1944 caused him to lose feeling in his arms and legs, rendering him unable to walk 100 yards. He was sent back to the United States to recuperate and received the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Honor, and a second Croix de Guerre for his service in France.
Cook served in planning roles as the war wound down, trying unsuccessfully to have Patton transferred for service against Japan after the European war ended, and retired in May 1946. He was called back to serve in the Chief of Staff’s Advisory Group and on the War Department Board of Review for Policies and Programs before retiring for good on June 30, 1948, though he was brought in to advise on major war games for the army in 1948 and 1955. He died in La Jolla, California, on September 19, 1963, and is buried next to his wife in Arlington National Cemetery.
For additional information:
Arkansas and Its People: A History, 1541–1930. Vol. 4. New York: The American Historical Society, 1930.
“Gilbert R. Cook.” Arlington National Cemetery (Unofficial). http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/grcook.htm (accessed November 30, 2018).
Hirshson, Stanley P. General Patton: A Soldier’s Life. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.
Mark K. Christ
Little Rock, Arkansas
Last Updated 11/30/2018
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