Kelly Francis Cook was born May 2, 1922 on a farm near Keene in Jessamine County, Kentucky. His family later moved to a farm in Fayette County where Kelly grew up farming, raising award winning tobacco and participating in 4-H Club events while attending Briar Hill Elementary and Bryan Station High School in Lexington.
In 1939 Kelly received the Citizenship Award from Lexington’s American Legion Man O’ War Post 8. Following graduation from Bryan Station in 1939, he attended the University of Notre Dame before leaving in 1943 to enter the U.S. Army Air Force during WWII.
Lt. Cook flew missions as a Co-Pilot / Pilot on a B-24 Liberator in the European Theater of Operations with the 762nd Bomb Squadron of the 460th Bomb Group.
Following the end of WWII, Kelly returned to Notre Dame to complete his degree, join the school’s faculty as an English teacher, and author a book, "The Other Capri," based on his WWII experiences.
Cook’s service to his country continued on to include;
174th Fighter Squadron, Iowa Air National Guard in Sioux City.
Korean War, as a pilot flying missions from Osan Air Base, Korea.
Instructor with the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado.
English professor with the Royal Air Force College in Cranwell, United Kingdom.
Assistant Director of operations for the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing in Vietnam.
★ Distinguished Flying Cross w/ oak leaf cluster
★ Air Medal w/ 3 oak leaf clusters
★ Army Commendation Medal
★ 2 Presidential Unit Citations
On 10 November 1967, an F-4C Phantom II with Cook as aircraft commander and Major James Crew, pilot, took off from Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam, as one of two F-4’s on a night strike mission over enemy targets in North Vietnam. A ground controller monitored the flight due to weather in the target area, but lost radar and radio contact with both aircraft as they reached the “bombs away” point.
Contact could not be reestablished, and both aircraft failed to return from the mission. Hostile presence in the area prevented search efforts for the missing aircraft, and both crew members aboard this Phantom remain Missing in Action.
The 2nd plane’s crew;
In November 1988, the Vietnamese government returned a set of remains, which was later identified as Major Charles Huneycutt Jr, pilot.
The aircraft commander, Major James Morgan remains MIA.
Based on all information available, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) assessed this case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.
Colonel Kelly Cook,
YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN