After graduating high school and attending college for a year, Wesley E. Cooke began his career for Prudential Insurance Company. Like many Americans following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Wesley felt that it was his duty to serve and protect his country and enlisted in the army at Fort Dix, New Jersey. After completing officer candidate school and receiving his commission, he was sent to the Pacific theater with the 155th Infantry Division. It was during his time in the Pacific theater that he would earn a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Before transition into the reserves, he was promoted to First Lieutenant in January of 1945.
Wesley continued in the reserves until 1950 when he was activated for a deployment to Korea. Wesley’s perspective of the war was different than the men that were assigned to his unit. He would often reflect on this period to his family that as an older officer, in his early 30’s, he was often troubled by the fact that all of the men he led into battle were in their late teens. He reflected on how his primary goal was to ensure that these men could return home safely and have the ability to begin their lives and have families and careers. During this period of active duty, he was a recipient of the Foreign Service Medal and the UN Service Medal.
Wes returned from Korea to his family, Dorothy and his two sons, and continued to serve in the reserves. Within a few years after his return, his wife’s health drastically declined and he was transferred from the Prudential Insurance Office in Newark, New Jersey to the Boston office. With the increased responsibilities at work and home, he chose to leave the reserves and focus more on his civilian life. A few years after the passing of his wife, he was fortunate to meet the second love of his life and fellow widow, Maude, in 1974. Wes worked for 40 years with Prudential and retired in 1977 as the manager of the field office planning unit on the 17th floor at the Prudential Tower in Boston, MA.
Wesley Cooke passed away in 2009 at the age of 90 and his legacy is one of devotion to his family, his faith and service to his nation.
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Korean War - Key Events
June 25, 1950
A massive artillery barrage from the North signals the beginning of the Korean War. Roughly 100,000 North Korean troops pour across the 38th parallel, and, although South Korean forces are driven back, they retire in good order.
These events are taken from the Encyclopedia Britannica