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SALUTING PULASKI COUNTY’S VETERANS

(Editor’s note: This is part of a continuing series of stories spotlighting Pulaski County’s military veterans.)

PULASKI — As a young soldier in the U.S. Army during World War II, Bennie Cook got what many would consider a lucky break.
Born and raised near Dayton, Ohio, Cook, 21, joined the U.S. Army in August 1942.
“I don’t know whether I’d call it joining or not. I went down to the draft board, told them I was ready to go, and they took me,” Cook said with a laugh, adding that he knew he would eventually be drafted anyway.
Shortly after, Cook went to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., for basic training, where he was trained as an infantryman and joined the 1st Infantry, 6th Division.
After his training, Cook and his division were assigned to the Mojave Desert, where they spent over three months working on maneuvers. During the week, he and his fellow soldiers slept on the ground at night, then headed to base camp on the weekends for inspections before returning to the field on Sunday night.
“Mainly what we were doing out in the desert was figuring out maneuvers that could be used for our troops who were sent to Africa at that time,” Cook said. “I remember one week they took a spell and wouldn’t feed us. Then we went another week without water.”
After his time stationed in the Mojave, Cook was assigned to Camp San Luis Obispo in California, before being stationed in Hawaii.
It was once Cook reached Hawaii that he earned the above-mentioned lucky break, when he was switched from the infantry division to the quartermaster bakery, where he worked as a baker.
“I had worked in a bakery as a kid, so I had lots of experience, and it seemed like they were needing bakers pretty bad,” Cook said. “In that little bakery, we would run 600 loaves of bread an hour, running 18 to 20 hours a day.”
He noted that this bread was provided for Schofield Barracks and “all of the Army that was stationed on the island.”
“I guess I was lucky I got out of infantry,” Cook said. “Our outfit wound up in the Philippines. A lot of those boys got killed there.”
Cook stayed in Hawaii until he was due for furlough, then went to Camp Atterbury, Ind., where he was ultimately discharged in 1946, after 42 months of service.
After his discharge from the Army, Cook began working with concrete block making. With that block experience under his belt, he moved to Pulaski in 1948, where he managed the block plant for many years. In 1983, he retired from the Marshall Concrete plant in Christiansburg.
Cook has been married for almost 55 years. He and his wife have one son and two daughters, along with two grandsons and one granddaughter.
Cook has spent his retirement dabbling with numerous hobbies, including farming, gardening and canning, and riding a motorcycle with his wife. On their motorcycle, the two have traveled to Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and as far south as Key West, Fla. Unfortunately, they haven’t been doing much motorcycle traveling lately after having a serious wreck several years back.
The Cooks also went into the flea market business for a while and had a permanent booth at a flea market near Hillsville.
“We started out just trying to get rid of our junk, and then we moved on to wholesale buying,” Cook said.
Cook also had a ceramic shop set up in his home for about five years after buying a kiln from a friend and sold many of his ceramic creations at their flea market booth. He noted that he had about 700 different molds for ceramics, including popular sale items, such as angels, cows and even Christmas trees.
Today, Cook, 87, spends much of his time at his home on Cox Hollow Road in Pulaski and makes a point to take a walk every morning. His father was raised on a farm in Kentucky, so Cook said that as a kid, he had always “dreamed of a place like this to live. So, when I got the house built and moved in, that answered my dreams.”

SALUTING PULASKI COUNTY’S VETERANS

(Editor’s note: This is part of a continuing series of stories spotlighting Pulaski County’s military veterans.)

PULASKI — As a young soldier in the U.S. Army during World War II, Bennie Cook got what many would consider a lucky break.
Born and raised near Dayton, Ohio, Cook, 21, joined the U.S. Army in August 1942.
“I don’t know whether I’d call it joining or not. I went down to the draft board, told them I was ready to go, and they took me,” Cook said with a laugh, adding that he knew he would eventually be drafted anyway.
Shortly after, Cook went to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., for basic training, where he was trained as an infantryman and joined the 1st Infantry, 6th Division.
After his training, Cook and his division were assigned to the Mojave Desert, where they spent over three months working on maneuvers. During the week, he and his fellow soldiers slept on the ground at night, then headed to base camp on the weekends for inspections before returning to the field on Sunday night.
“Mainly what we were doing out in the desert was figuring out maneuvers that could be used for our troops who were sent to Africa at that time,” Cook said. “I remember one week they took a spell and wouldn’t feed us. Then we went another week without water.”
After his time stationed in the Mojave, Cook was assigned to Camp San Luis Obispo in California, before being stationed in Hawaii.
It was once Cook reached Hawaii that he earned the above-mentioned lucky break, when he was switched from the infantry division to the quartermaster bakery, where he worked as a baker.
“I had worked in a bakery as a kid, so I had lots of experience, and it seemed like they were needing bakers pretty bad,” Cook said. “In that little bakery, we would run 600 loaves of bread an hour, running 18 to 20 hours a day.”
He noted that this bread was provided for Schofield Barracks and “all of the Army that was stationed on the island.”
“I guess I was lucky I got out of infantry,” Cook said. “Our outfit wound up in the Philippines. A lot of those boys got killed there.”
Cook stayed in Hawaii until he was due for furlough, then went to Camp Atterbury, Ind., where he was ultimately discharged in 1946, after 42 months of service.
After his discharge from the Army, Cook began working with concrete block making. With that block experience under his belt, he moved to Pulaski in 1948, where he managed the block plant for many years. In 1983, he retired from the Marshall Concrete plant in Christiansburg.
Cook has been married for almost 55 years. He and his wife have one son and two daughters, along with two grandsons and one granddaughter.
Cook has spent his retirement dabbling with numerous hobbies, including farming, gardening and canning, and riding a motorcycle with his wife. On their motorcycle, the two have traveled to Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and as far south as Key West, Fla. Unfortunately, they haven’t been doing much motorcycle traveling lately after having a serious wreck several years back.
The Cooks also went into the flea market business for a while and had a permanent booth at a flea market near Hillsville.
“We started out just trying to get rid of our junk, and then we moved on to wholesale buying,” Cook said.
Cook also had a ceramic shop set up in his home for about five years after buying a kiln from a friend and sold many of his ceramic creations at their flea market booth. He noted that he had about 700 different molds for ceramics, including popular sale items, such as angels, cows and even Christmas trees.
Today, Cook, 87, spends much of his time at his home on Cox Hollow Road in Pulaski and makes a point to take a walk every morning. His father was raised on a farm in Kentucky, so Cook said that as a kid, he had always “dreamed of a place like this to live. So, when I got the house built and moved in, that answered my dreams.”