By Karl Weisel (USAG Wiesbaden)May 22, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany - After Command Sgt. Maj. Eric F. Cooke was killed in Iraq on Christmas Eve 2003, hundreds of people turned out to pay their respects at memorial services in Iraq and Germany.
Cooke, who was serving as the senior noncommissioned officer of 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, based in Friedberg, died when his vehicle struck an explosive device north of Baghdad.
A decade later those who had the distinct pleasure to serve or get to know the influential NCO leader are still finding ways to salute his legacy.
"For all of us who served with Command Sgt. Maj. Cooke, he is the epitome of an NCO," said Brig. Gen. Mike Bills, U.S. Army Europe's G-3. "He is a role model for Soldiers and leaders today and always."
"They always had a very close relationship and fostered a proud and loyal command climate in the unit," said Lt. Col. Brian Doyle, U.S. Army Europe's executive officer to the G-3.
Doyle, who commanded Troop A of the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, when Cooke served as command sergeant major for 1-1st Cavalry, said at that time Bills, was the squadron commander.
"There is a significant population of Soldiers who served under that command team in the G3 and USAREUR today," Doyle added.
At a ceremony in the Gen. Shalikashvili Mission Command Center on May 1, German and American guests gathered once again to remember Cooke during the dedication of the CSM Cooke Conference Room.
"When looking for appropriate names for the new command center conference rooms, CSM Cooke was on the top of many lists," said Doyle, explaining that Dagmar, Cooke's widow who now resides in Wiesbaden, was among the guests at the ceremony.
"She provided many of the sergeant major's military mementos to the Army for display at the guest house in Heidelberg. With the closing of those facilities, the opening of the MCC and Mrs. Cooke's connection to Wiesbaden, this was the ideal time and location to make this dedication," he said.
Just as at the memorial service for Cooke on Friedberg's Ray Barracks in early 2004, Soldiers, family members and host nation officials were on hand in Wiesbaden for the dedication.
"He was always with his men, and he died as he lived - being a Soldier's Soldier," said 1st Sgt. David Henry of 1-1st Cavalry during the 2004 memorial service. "He was an anchor. He was always mentoring and building tomorrow's Army."
This is the second dedication for the fallen NCO leader in Wiesbaden. In 2010, Building 1638, one of the Training Support Center facilities on Clay Kaserne, was likewise named in his honor.