GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Breaking News

Top Stories

November 9, 2012

Veterans Day events spotlight 50-year mark

Veterans Day spotlights 50 years

Fifty years ago, Jerris “Jerry” Cook sat in Gloucester High School watching the start of the Vietnam War.

Two years later, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was on his way to Okinawa.

Cook — who would later serve 30 years in the Gloucester Police Department, retiring as a lieutenant — became a sergeant in the Air Force 6994th Security squadron, and worked as a radio analyst aboard aircraft looking for North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces during the Vietnam War, where he volunteered to serve in 1964 and flew roughly 14,000 hours in 2012 combat missions during his two years in the war.

His unit flew in converted DC-3s, the oldest aircraft in the sky during the war. He listened over the radio searching for the Morse code communications of the North Vietnamese army. Cook said by finding radio signals his aircraft could find the troops hidden in the jungle and give the American troops an idea of where they were.

”You’d see arc-light bombs or artillery shells (head there),” he said.

While he made it out of the war unscathed, save a few bullet holes in his old aircraft, he lost friends and commanders — and he, of course, was far from alone. The first stepped-up U.S. involvement in Vietnam came in 1962, and the 50-year anniversary of that date is being noted in Veterans Day ceremonies Sunday in Gloucester, around Cape Ann, and around the country.

The ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. at Gloucester High School tomorrow.

“Maybe we can get some closure and go from there,” said Mark Nestor, a Gloucester attorney, Vietnam veteran and longtime veterans’ advocate whose Veterans Day letter on today’s Opinion page notes that he is from the “Vietnam, Class of ‘70.”

”It’s a token, and symbolic,” Nestor said, “but if one guy can tell me (he’s) finally able to say (he’s) a Vietnam veteran because of what’s happened than it’s absolutely worth it.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Top Stories

Pictures of the Week
Your news, your way
AP Video
US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Obama Offers Condolences at Dutch Embassy Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament The Rock Finds His Inner 'Hercules' Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran