Lester Cook

  • Born: September 25, 1922
  • Died: August 9, 2020
  • Location: Ankeny, Iowa

Memorial Services of Iowa

4208 North Ankeny Blvd.
Ankeny, IA 50023

dave@ankenymemorial.com
Tel. (515) 964-0592

Tribute & Message From The Family


Lester Bernard Cook, 97, passed away August 9, 2020 at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa. Lester was born September 25, 1922 in Des Moines, Iowa, to Otis and Florence (Beebe) Cook.

Lester graduated from East High School and immediately began his long and decorated military career with the US Army. In February of 1941 he enlisted into the Iowa National Guard 168th INF BN, 34th INF Division. Les volunteered and was selected to serve in the 1st Ranger Bn, Darby's Rangers. He served all of WWII with the 1st and 4th Ranger Bn's. He then served as a paratrooper with the 187th Airborne INF, Rakkasans, during the Korean War. Lester was selected to the 77th Special Forces Group serving as an advisor at the beginning of the Vietnam War. During his time with the Army he earned two silver stars, four purple hearts, and numerous other awards before retiring from active duty. He was extremely proud to be an original Darby's Ranger. Lester would have been jumping out of airplanes to this day if the Army would have let him.

After serving in the Army, he moved back to Des Moines and met his wife, Carolyn Lange, at the Post Office where he worked. They married on February 10, 1973.
Lester was known for being stubborn, but funny, and could be seen out on his bicycle until he was in his 70's. He also enjoyed his model trains, fishing, reading books, and watching The History Channel where he was always pointing out the inaccuracies in the military programs. To sum up Lester's life, he set an example for others to follow.

Lester is survived by his wife, Carolyn; and daughter, Andrea Lea Cook (Joe Stiles). He is preceded in death by his parents; and sisters, Louise and Betty.
A memorial services will be held at a later date.


Condolence & Memory Journal

Les Cook was my link to my father's service with the Rangers. About the first thing he told me when we met was that the top chain of command of the 4th Ranger Battalion were all named Lester (Capt. Kness, Lt. Henry, Sgt. Cook). My father died relatively young and rarely spoke of his military service so I learned a lot of what I know about his experiences from Les. The fact that Les liked and respected my father spoke volumes to me because he did not suffer fools gladly. He was a hero in three wars (Ranger in WW II, paratrooper in Korea and Green Beret in Vietnam) with two Silver Stars to his credit. He was an amazing man and I will miss him as will my husband. Les was, and still is, larger than life.

Posted by Marsha Henry Goff - Lawrence, KS - friend   August 19, 2021

I met Lester some years back as I drove down to Des Moines to pick him up and bring him to Minn so he could share in the passing of his life long buddy Zane Skippy. They were both proud Darby's Rangers. Ninety some and still tough as can be, yet such a gentleman. After the service, at the end of that day, my wife and I brought him back home. We were in great company. Thank you Les, for all you've done for so many.
P.S. I still drink my coffee black!
Kevin Phipps
Friend

Posted by Kevin Phipps - Friend   December 27, 2020

I met Mr Cook while a patient at the Des Moines VA Community Living Center at the beginning of this year. I sat down at the same table with him during dinner one night and after introductions, he said to me in his gruff voice, let me ask you a question...who's the best looking man in this chow hall and why do you think I am? I got such a kick out of him. At the time, I had no idea I was in the presence of a true hero and the historical role he played. It was such a pleasure and an honor to have met him.

Posted by Thomas Colthurst - Washington, IA - Acquaintance   December 12, 2020

My father (Royal H. Wells; Co.D 1st Battalion "Original Darbys' Rangers"; and 4th
Battalion Rangers; and Korea, fought along side Lester all through "Operation Torch", the Invasion of North Africa and ending with the ill fated mission at
Cisterna de' Littoria, Italy where some 775+ Rangers were killed or taken POW.
I had the distinct Honor of visiting with Lester on several occasions at his home
in Des Moines and every time I left, I felt I had been in the presence of a true
American Hero, though Lester would never claim this moniker for himself. Carolyn, I am at a loss for words, and can only say I will miss him terribly.
RLTW

God Bless you,
Jerry Wells

Posted by Jerry Wells - Altoona, IA - Friend   September 11, 2020

Thanks for your great life and service,Ranger!/ Old Vietnam LRRP 1969e

Posted by Tim Rowbotham - Conneaut, OH   September 02, 2020

Candle

Rest in peace Ranger, we'll all meet at the great hall in Valhalla!

Posted by Kenneth Landry - Humble, TX - Friend   August 31, 2020

ODE TO MY NEIGHBOR, LESTER COOK -- THINGS I WISH I'D SAID

DEAR LESTER:

LIKE OTHERS WHO HAVE NOT SERVED THEIR COUNTRY, I WILL NEVER TRULY UNDERSTAND THE SACRIFICES THAT YOU MADE BOTH IN TIMES OF PEACE AND IN WAR.

I WILL NEVER FULLY UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU WERE REQUIRED TO DO AND JUST HOW YOU WERE ABLE TO DO IT.

I WILL NEVER FULLY UNDERSTAND THE DEPTH OF YOUR SCARS.


BUT WHAT I CAN OFFER YOU IS THIS:

I SEE YOU.

I RECOGNIZE YOUR HUMANITY.

I GIVE YOU MY RESPECT AND LOVE THAT IS GENTLE, PATIENT AND HEALING.

WITH BLESSINGS AND GRATITUDE I ASK YOU TO REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE LOVED.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE FOR ALL OF US. I'M PROUD TO BE YOUR NEIGHBOR AND FRIEND. I WILL TELL MY SONS AND GRANDSONS OF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND SACRIFICES SO YOUR MEMORY WILL LIVE ON IN THE HEARTS OF FUTURE GENERATIONS. IT IS THE LEAST I CAN DO. YOU ARE MY TRUE HERO AND YOU WILL BE SO MISSED.

Danielle Atkinson

Posted by Jim & Danielle Atkinson - Des Moines, IA - Neighbor   August 31, 2020

Rest now Brother. Thank you for Leading the Way for us all RLTW

Posted by Everett Cheney - Brownsburg, IN - Brother   August 16, 2020