Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Jason Chesley Cook

Okanogan, Washington

August 21, 2004

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
25 Marine Sgt

1st LAR, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force

Camp Pendleton, California

Died from injuries received from to enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

For Some Memorial Service Snapshots, Click photo below:

August 29, 2004

Sgt. Jason Cook of Okanogan, Washington joined the Marine Corps in October 1997, a few months after graduating from Okanogan High School. He met his wife, Yovana, at a party while he was assigned to guard the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. They were married for two years, but spent only eight months of that time together because of his military assignments. As the officer in charge of his squad's armored vehicle, Cook named the vehicle after his wife. His awards included the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. Cook was on his second deployment to Iraq. He was 25.
From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer seattlepi.com 08/23/04:

Okanogan man dies in Iraq combat
Jason Cook, 25, one of four killed Saturday, was on his second deployment

By LEWIS KAMB, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
Updated 10:00 pm, Monday, August 23, 2004
An Okanogan man was among four Marines killed during combat in Iraq on Saturday, the U.S. Department of Defense announced yesterday.

Sgt. Jason C. Cook, 25, a 1997 graduate of Okanogan High School, died of wounds received "due to enemy action" in the Al Anbar Province west of Baghdad, a Defense Department statement said.

Citing security reasons, American defense officials yesterday declined to give further details of the incident in which Cook and the three others were killed. Anbar, the province where they died, includes the Sunni Muslim city of Fallujah -- a flash point for anti-U.S. insurgents.

Cook, an anti-tank assault guided missileman in his second deployment to Iraq, was assigned to the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force of Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Also killed Saturday were Cpl. Nicanor Alverez, 22, of San Bernardino, Calif.; Lance Cpl. Seth Huston, 19, of Perrytown, Texas; and Pfc. Nachez Washalanta, 21, of Bryan, Okla., the Defense Department said.

Cook joined the Marine Corps in October 1997, shortly after graduating from high school. During his military career, he had received various awards, including the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal; the Joint Service Achievement Medal; the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal; and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.

Cook was the second north-central Washington Marine killed in Iraq last week.

Lance Cpl. Caleb J. Powers, 21, of Mansfield, died Aug. 17 in enemy action in Al Anbar Province.

As of Sunday, 956 U.S. service personnel have died since military operations began in Iraq in March 2003, the Defense Department said.

From The Yakima Herald yakima-herald.com  :

Marine Killed in Iraq
By MARK MOREY
YAKIMA HERALD-REPUBLIC

He loved the Marine Corps so much he had their motto — "Semper Fi," for Always Faithful — tattooed across his chest.

He loved his wife so much that he wouldn't have given up the chance to meet her even if he knew it would set him on a path with death in Iraq, his stepfather said.

Sgt. Jason Cook, 25, becomes the fourth Marine with ties to the Yakima Valley to die in Iraq.

He was killed in action Saturday in Al Anbar province, but the Marines were not releasing further information, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

"He had a tremendous love of life — and I believe he died doing what he needed to and doing what he thought was right — defending our country," 
said an aunt, Carol Carlquist of Zillah.

Cook's mother and stepfather, Cheryl and Del Miles, live in Yakima, and other relatives live in the area.

Family members and Cook's wife gathered at his parent's home Tuesday night, recalling a competitive yet caring young man who joined the Marines because he believed in their mission and sense of family.

"There just wasn't anything Jason wouldn't do for you. He was right there for you," Del Miles said.

He enlisted at age 19 after graduating from Okanogan High School in 1997, although he received most of his education at schools in the Seattle area.

He and his wife, Yovana, 25, spent only eight months of their two-year marriage together because of his military service, including two tours in Iraq.

"I feel like we didn't have enough time to enjoy ourselves together," 
Yovana Cook said.

"He was always taking care of me."

The couple met at a party while he was assigned to guard the U.S. 
Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. After the married, they were living at Camp Pendleton, Calif., where Cook was based.

He was an anti-tank missileman assigned to the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.

As the officer in charge of his squad's armored vehicle, he named it after his wife, relatives said.

He always sounded upbeat and strong in his phone calls, including the last one to his wife a week before he died.

Yovana Cook said they talked about celebrating his birthday on Oct. 11.

She planned to rent a Jet-Ski for them to ride on the first day he came back at the end of September.

In his last letter to her in late July, he expressed his love and asked for more packages of tuna. He had come to rely on the meat to replace meals during busy times.

Like other military families faced with the loss of a serviceman, they never really considered the prospect that he might not return alive.

When the motorcade for Marine Sgt. Yadir Reynoso's funeral passed his parents' home on 16th Avenue earlier this month, Del Miles said he questioned what right he had to consider himself exempt from the tragedy endured by the Wapato man's family.

"I always knew we weren't, but I selfishly hoped we would be," said another aunt, Cindy Austin of Everett.

Her son, recruited by Cook to join the Marines, is out after serving almost a year in Iraq. Carlquist's son, another Marine, is assigned to an anti-drug unit in Arizona.

Cook was up for a third tour in Iraq, but he was hoping a promotion would allow him to choose assignment to an embassy post in South America — a gentler job where he could settle down and start a family.

He had also talked about leaving the Marines to work for the U.S. 
Marshals or Border Patrol.

Yovana Cook said she's not ready to face the thought of a future without the cute, flirtatious guy who had promised to tell her everything about the war experience once he came back.

However, "I'm going to make it because that's what he wanted me to do."

"He was the best for me," she said.

It's unclear when Cook's body will arrive in Yakima, but relatives have discussed a tentative public service at the First Presbyterian Church on Sunday afternoon.

They plan to ask Sen. Patty Murray to help them with another hurdle: 
arranging a temporary visa for Yovana Cook's mother so she can attend the service from Colombia.

Those attempts so far have hit a series of roadblocks, but they're hopeful that Murray can clear the way.

Besides 27-year-old Reynoso, the local Marines killed this summer in Iraq were Lance Cpl. Dustin Sides, 22, of Yakima and Staff Sgt. Marvin Best, 33, of Prosser.

Washington Marine dies in Iraq

Associated Press

YAKIMA, Wash. — Sgt. Jason C. Cook, 25, was killed in action last Saturday in Iraq’s Anbar province, according to his family and military officials. He had joined the Marine Corps in October 1997, a few months after graduating from Okanogan High School.

Cook’s mother and stepfather, Cheryl and Del Miles, live in Yakima. Family members gathered at his parents’ home Wednesday to grieve.

“There just wasn’t anything Jason wouldn’t do for you. He was right there for you,” Del Miles said.

Cook met his wife, Yovana, at a party while he was assigned to guard the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. They were married for two years, but spent only eight months of that time together because of his military assignments.

As the officer in charge of his squad’s armored vehicle, Cook named the vehicle after his wife, relatives said.

An anti-tank assault guided missileman based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Cook was assigned to the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.

His awards included the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. Cook was on his second deployment to Iraq.
From Marine Chat:

Jason Cook didn't talk to his family much about the women he dated. But when he met the love of his life at a party in Bogota, Colombia, he simply couldn't help himself. 

"He said, 'You guys would not believe the woman I met, and I'm going to marry her,' " said his stepfather, Del Miles of Yakima, Wash. 

And he kept his word. 

Cook, who was assigned to guard the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, married Yovana on Dec. 21, 2002. Two weeks later, he left for what would be the first of two deployments to Iraq. The second time, the Camp Pendleton Marine did not return. 

The 25-year-old sergeant from Okanogan, Wash., died Aug. 21 from enemy fire in Anbar province in Iraq. He was an anti-tank attack assault guided missileman assigned to the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division. 

He joined the Marine Corps in October 1997. 

"The Marines was the best thing for him and the worst thing," Miles said. He said about the marriage: "They were so complete together. They complemented each other so much." 

Yovana Cook, 25, said she and her husband spent only about eight months together during their nearly two-year marriage. During those months, Cook tried arranging for her to live and work in the United States. 

"He was just beautiful," she said. "We were so much in love. 

"For his age, I couldn't believe that he was such a responsible person," she continued. "So dedicated to his job and to his family, and that was just awesome to me." 

That dedication was obvious to his family even when Cook was still in high school. Even then, he knew he wanted to enlist. 

"Jason always wanted to be a Marine," Miles said. "He loved doing it and he loved supporting his country." 

In the days since his death, Yovana Cook hasn't had much time to consider a future without her husband. 

"He was like a dream come true for me," she said. "All I wanted in my life was having a good person I could spend my life with, and he was the one." 

Besides his wife and stepfather, Cook is survived by his mother, Cheryl Miles; and two stepbrothers, Brian Clark of Kirkland, Wash., and Scott Clark of Redmond, Wash. 

Funeral services were held Sunday in Yakima.

Thursday, August 26. 2004

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Deaths of Camp Pendleton Marines - Sgt. Jason Cook and Pfc. Nachez Washalanta
Governor Schwarzenegger today issued the following statement regarding the deaths of Sgt. Jason Cook, of Okanogan, WA, and Pfc. Nachez Washalanta, of Bryan, OK, both of whom were stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA:
"Sgt. Cook and Pfc. Washalanta laid down their lives to protect the freedoms that we so often take for granted. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten. Maria and I send our condolences to Jason and Nachez's loved ones during this difficult time."
Cook, 25, and Washalanta, 21, died Aug. 21 from injuries received due to enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. They were assigned to 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.
In honor of Cook and Washalanta, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff. 

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