ELKINS – Davis & Elkins College students studying history of the Vietnam War era aren’t learning solely from a lecture or a textbook. Instead, they hear accounts from guest lecturer U.S Army retired Major Steven E. Cook, a Vietnam War veteran and author of the book they use in class.
A native of Elkins, Cook became acquainted with Dr. David Turner, chair of the D&E History and Political Science Department, and the two began discussing how they could collaborate in the classroom to bring Vietnam War history into a clearer perspective. At the time, Cook was working on a book manuscript and would share copies of some of the chapters with Turner’s students.
Recently published with a foreword by Turner, Cook’s “Don’t Cry for Us, Saigon” is a mainstay in Turner’s Vietnam History class. Cook also donated a copy of the work to Booth Library. In addition to providing a soldier’s point of view on the war, Cook also traces the culture, music and political climate of the era.
The book, which Turner calls “Vietnam for another generation,” is just one of the items Cook brings to class. He’s often seen carrying along uniforms, boots and C-Rations.
“It’s a different way of doing it,” Cook says of his presentations. “I can teach them about history from a personal side of it. I try to make it entertaining, let them ask questions and get into a discussion.”
Cook’s long career in the military – 1965 to 1986 – spans three airborne combat tours in Vietnam and 13 years as an officer. After retiring from active duty, he served as Deputy Chief of the Joint Army and Special Operations Forces Division, Directorate of Training and Doctrine and later as a training specialist and command manager on the U.S. Army Staff in the Pentagon.
He was awarded the U.S. Army Staff Identification Badge in 2004 and is a survivor of the 9/11 Pentagon terrorism attack. He also has been awarded many military honors including the Special Forces Tab, Combat Infantry Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, six Bronze Stars and four Purple Hearts.
In addition, Cook is a distinguished member of the Special Forces Regiment 141 and distinguished member of the 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment.