Pilot

“A GOOD PILOT”

(Posted: December 12, 2011)

I learned today, December 12, of the passing of the last of my Father’s crew members and the only person that I’ve been able to locate who remembered my Dad from his wartime years.  2nd Lt. Lawrence Cook was my Father’s pilot, the only pilot he had ever flown with during WWII. 

 Following is a photo that I took in January, 2007, when my Mother, sister Dawn and I traveled to California to enjoy the pleasure of meeting my Dad’s pilot.  It is a treasured memory and another significant chapter in my book . . .

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 As a Prisoner of War my Father wrote this poem entitled “A Good Pilot” . . . .

“A Pilot is a well-trained chauffeur  

And is bossed by the entire crew.

But when it comes to pinches

(He’ll tell you what to do.)

He keeps the plane in formation

Way up there in that blue

And when the fighters start coming in

He calls them off to you.

He sets up there so helpless

With no gun to fire back

But when it comes to courage

That’s something he doesn’t lack.

To him his crew’s welfare

Is foremost in his mind

And when it comes to bailing out

You can bet he’ll be last in line.”                                                                                                                                        

If it was not for Lawrence Cook, I would not be writing this today as it is likely that my Father would not have survived the War.  Lawrence called my Father out of his position in the ball turret after their doomed bomber had been hit to make sure that he could put on his parachute.  He was afraid that if they lost electricity he would not be able to get out of the turret.   The parachute did not fit in the turret with the ball turret gunner.   Pilot Cook did not see himself as the hero that he was.  I feel so honored to have met him to be able to thank him personally not only for saving my Father’s life but for his service to his Country.  He was so humble and and one of the kindest and sweetest people that I have ever met.  I called him my Father #2.  What an incredible feeling it was to meet him knowing that he and my Father had flown missions and shared a frightening and life-changing experience together.  I am so blessed to have gotten to know him and to be able to visit with him not only about wartime experiences but about life and the things that are important.  Lawrence taught the Bible from the time he was a young man and he led an exemplary life.  I only wish that he and my Father would have reunited after the war and that I could have met him sooner.  I loved him from the first moment that he took the time to talk to me.  His health has not been good for quite some time and I have missed our conversations but I will never forget the last time that we talked.  I knew in my heart that it would be the last time and I could tell that he thought the same.  We both told each other how happy that we were to have met.  I told him for one last time that I loved him like a Father and that he was my adopted “Father Number 2.”   He, also, had included me as an adopted daughter.   His family has been like extended family to me.  Our Father’s shared so much together that it took so many years for us to learn about.   My friendship with my Father’s pilot has been a highlight in my life that I will never forget.  I wanted to find someone who remembered my Father and could tell me about him during that lifetime that I knew so little about and he not only remembered Dad but he saved his life!  God bless them as they meet again!

Lawrence H. Cook’s obituary can be found at this link:

http://www.hidesertstar.com/obituaries/article_f83f60ae-25f6-11e1-b9a4-0019bb2963f4.html?mode=story

Pilot Cook and his crew are also remembered at: www.evasioncomete.org.  Lawrence Cook, as well as three of his crew members were helped by the members of the Comete Escape Line to evade capture.  Milo Blakely and Thomas Mikulka both made it successfully back to England.  Lawrence and John Booth were helped until they were arrested by the Germans.  The brave Belgian patriots hid them from February 4, 1944, the date they were shot down, until March 28, 1944.