The 36th Division Archive
Private Theodore E. Cook
Regimental Headquarters Company, 142nd Infantry Regiment
Born in the small logging town of Florence, Wisconsin right along the Canadian border, Cook spent his early years watching the town grow from a small settlement to a productive township as his father and others set up various sawmills to give the town its primary welfare. After graduating high school he too joined in as a mill worker and spent several years there before the dawn of war woke the sleepy Wisconsin community.
In March of 1942 he was amongst the first in his town to receive their draft notices and promptly reported for federal service. Trained quickly over the Spring, by the summer of 1942 he was attached to his long-standing post in the 142nd regimental HQ. Heading overseas in the fall of 1943 he landed right alongside the rest of the division on Salerno’s shores and fought his way through Italy helping to oversee regimental operations in their many great fights such as San Pietro, Monte Cassino, the Rapido, and more. Eventually the time came to leave the peninsula and Cook followed the division to the southern shore of France. The 142nd truly made a mark for itself in the French campaign, consistently driving through German lines and pushing them back further and further to their homeland.
Cook and the regiment received their presidential unit citation in March of 1945 for their actions in securing the Siegfried line for the division. Sent ahead to test German defenses, the regiment fell into heated combat with several German regiments heavily dug into the area and towns dotting it. Artillery and machine-gun fire were fierce across the mostly flat planes but the 142nd continued to push and finally broke through by capturing the critical Grassberg Height. Exploiting the gap, the rest of the regiment poured through and began pounding and running into German positions all around them. By March 21st the line had been broken, at a cost, but for the valiant effort of the 142nd and all the men who helped make it possible, they were awarded the PUC.
In 1945 he was able to return home to Wisconsin where he married, settled down, and spent his years in the mill until he passed away in 1982.