World War II, Korea and Vietnam War Vet, Kelly Cook remembered Published May 26, 2023 By Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot 185th Air Refueling Wing Sioux City, Iowa -- Shortly after WWII, 1st LT. Kelly Cook joined the Iowa National Guard as a charter member of the 174th Fighter Squadron where he began flying the F-84 Thunderjet. When Cook came to Iowa as a traditional guard member he was working full time, teaching English at the University of Notre Dame which was also his alma mater. As a B-24 crew member during the 2nd World War, Cook likely trained at what was the Sioux City Army Air Base, before being sent to Italy during the war. Air Force Lieutenant Kelly Cook (front, center), poses for a photo with his B-24 flight crew in 1944. The bomber pilot, stationed in Italy, flew missions throughout the Mediterranean Theater of Operations during World War II. (Submitted photo) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Cook’s return to Sioux City after WWII and his affinity for the area became evident in the Kentucky native’s writings about his experiences in Western Iowa. A poet and author, Cook often chronicled his experiences, whether writing for his campus newspaper or when contributing articles to other publications like the Iowa Guardsman Magazine. Cook’s writing prowess also led him to author a uniquely titled book about his experience in Italy titled, “The Other Capri; and All My Sad Captains.” Within only a few years after his return to Sioux City, Cook and the rest of the 174th pilots were activated again in 1951 for the Korean War. The unit’s F-84 fighter jets and pilots were needed in another global conflict where nearly 80% of the Air National Guard was activated as part of the massive call-up. Pictured back row third from the left, Iowa Air National Guard 1st Lt. Kelly Cook with a group of 174th Fighter Squadron activated for the Korean War in Sioux City, Iowa, on April,1 1951. First row: Lt. Sheldon Hanneman, Lt. Warren Nelson, Lt. Harold Taylor, Maj. John Bradley; Second row: Capt. Richard Baughn, Capt. Harry McGraw, Lt. Tommy Green, Lt. Jack Savage, Lt. Richard Sulzbach, Lt. Al Grier; Third row: Capt. Donald Forney, Lt. Richard Smith, Lt. Kelly Cook, Maj. M.W. McMillan, Capt. Don Oldis, Maj. Robert Ruby (Commander) Lt. Douglas Griggs, Lt. Richard Nurre. Pilots not pictured Lt. Lyle Steely, Lt. Paul Cook, Lt. Gordon Young, Lt. William Hart, Lt. Rober Olson, Lt. Melvin Scott, Lt. Glen De Munck, Capt. Gale Stevens. U.S. Air National Guard Photo/released Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Some 174th pilots and aircraft were deployed back to Europe to combat the soviet threat, while others like Cook were back in a hot war on the Korean Peninsula. After serving as 5th Air Force staff officer at Osan Air Base, Korea, Cook stayed on active duty upon his return to the U.S. By the mid-1960s, Cook had merged his military and civilian interests and was working as an instructor at the United States Air Force Academy when America became involved in the Vietnam War. At age 47 Lt. Colonel Cook volunteered again for service in Vietnam. Cook’s last active-duty assignment was as an F-4 Phantom pilot, working as the assistant director of operations for the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing in Vietnam. Pictured on the bottom row, eighth in from left, Air Force Lt. Col. Kelly Cook takes a group photo circa 1966 with other F-4C fighter pilots while at combat crew training in Arizona before deploying to DaNang, Vietnam. Cook served as the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing assistant director of operations until a night training mission Nov. 10, 1967, when his F-4C was shot down over North Vietnam and he was declared Missing in Action. (Submitted photo) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Cook's F-4 was shot down in November of 1967, but he was reported to have successfully ejected. At the time he went missing Cook still listed Sioux City, Iowa as his home of record. Even though his remains were never repatriated he was declared killed in action in 1976. Posthumously promoted to the rank of Colonel, Kelly Cook’s name is engraved on a memorial marker on the grounds of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.