COZAD – Closure, 70 years in the making.
The VFW Post in Cozad is named after him. It took 70 years, but now his body has been laid to rest, where he died, in Hawaii. Scott Schmidt, a member of the Grant Cook Jr VFW Post, had the opportunity to go and see, first hand, the ceremony marking the death of the post’s namesake.
Cook was a fireman first-class on the USS Oklahoma December 7, 1941 when the Japanese Navy attacked prior to the US entry into World War II. Cook, along with 429 of his shipmates when down with the ship as it sunk in Pearl Harbor that fateful Sunday in Honolulu. The remains of the victims for years were never identified. That painstaking process though, began five years ago at Nebraska’s own Offutt Air Force Base.
The Cozad VFW post was informed that they had identified Cook’s remains and that a memorial would be held at Pearl Harbor, it was decided that Schmidt and his wife would go.
Schmidt said the ceremony was important for closure for all of those gathered including Cook’s niece who was present Colleen Neumann.
“She (Neumann), I felt like she finally got to meet her uncle,” Schmidt said, “now she felt he got to go home. It is important, I think, that they can now go to a place where they know the remains are instead of it being unidentified.”
Schmidt said that the family decided to leave the remains at an area known as the “Punch Bowl” at Pearl Harbor, along with many other service members.
As a final nod to Cook’s hometown, Neumann presented the flag that was given to her in remembrance of her uncle, to Schmidt so that it would go back to the VFW post that is named after him so the flag would be on display for everyone to see.
“We are planning to re-dedicate the flag,” Schmidt said, “at our memorial day service. We add all of the flags from those who passed away and their families want them, to our avenue of flags.”
All of the names of the people that have been added this year will be read at the service. It all begins at 11:00 on Memorial Day in Cozad.