From WWII to Myrtle Beach Base Commander
by Melissa LaScaleia
Charles E. Cook, Jr. was born in 1921 in Pennington, New Jersey. He attended Randolph-Macon Academy, a coeducational college preparatory school in Front Royal, Virginia. He then attended college at Bucknell University, a private liberal arts college in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, from which he received his degree in 1942.
That same year, he joined the United States Army Air Corps. In 1943, he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant, and completed flight training.
He was assigned to the 23rd Fighter Group in China for his first tour of duty, the group that was involved in much of the action over southeast and southwest Asia during World War II. During this time, he was promoted to Captain, and became Operations Officer for the 74th Fighter Squadron.
The 23rd Fighter Group implemented a number of innovative fighter tactics. Charles flew P-40 Warhawks against the Japanese, and was credited with making two-and-a-half air kills against the Japanese, as well as destroying several of their aircraft from the ground.
After World War II, Charles continued with the military and was assigned to the Las Vegas Army Air Field as a gunnery instructor. This post was followed by one at Shaw Field; then The Citadel as a Tactical Officer and instructor.
He was also stationed in Korea, and acted as Base Commander at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base for a number of years. He was part of the NATO War Planning Staff in Germany.
Charles had an illustrious military career— he was promoted to Colonel; was a graduate of Command and Staff College; and received numerous decorations from the United States, Chinese, and Korean governments.
Charles was adept at flying the T-6, P-40, P-47, P-51, P-61, P-80, and the T-39 aircraft. He worked at the Pentagon until 1965, when he retired from the military and moved to Myrtle Beach. In Myrtle Beach, he became a successful businessman and civic leader for over thirty years. He also served on the Myrtle Beach City Council from 1973-1975.
There is a historical marker for Colonel Charles E. Cook, Jr. at the intersection of Farrow Parkway and Hendrick Avenue in the Market Common.