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    Soldier Spotlight: Sgt. Cook Conquers Last Frontier

    Soldier Spotlight: Sgt. Cook Conquers Last Frontier

    Photo By Sgt. Nicholas Vidro | U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Cook, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Nicholas Vidro 

    1st Brigade, 11th Airborne Division

    The vast expanse of the last frontier rising before him, Christopher Cook focuses through his set of binoculars on a moose. As far as it is there's no way he'll hit it from this distance. He calls at it to get it to come closer and lies in wait. Just as soon as he can see his prey getting closer it suddenly breaks into a sprint into the horizon. He thinks back, he did everything right. He can feel the cool Alaskan wind blowing in his face. Then, something races past his periphery. A brown bear had botched his kill and is running into the same horizon.

    For some, experiencing the Alaskan wilderness seems like a frontier fantasy, but for Cook it's another great day to hone a skill he loves. Hailing from Oxford Hills, Maine, this U.S. Army Sergeant has always dreamed of making his move to America's most northern border.

    “I've always wanted to live in Alaska, even before the Army,” he said, “It's the best place in the United States for hunting and fishing.”

    Cook enlisted from Maine with the hopes to broaden his horizons, and in that time served at home and abroad. His first duty station took him to Fort Hood, Texas, and then on a nine month rotation to Korea. After seeing those destinations he knew it was time to work towards his goal of Alaska.

    After getting to Fort Wainwright he continued to indulge in his hunting and fishing while serving as a vehicle commander for 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. Needless to say he spent a lot of time outdoors.

    Since then he's had many experiences like the one above while he's enjoyed the bounties that Alaska has to offer, from smallest grouse to the plentiful caribou. Cook described what a typical hunt might be like.

    “I go caribou hunting every year,” he said, “Hunting off the Steese [Highway] is amazing. The views alone, you can see for forever. Then you get herd coming over the horizon, about 50 of them.”

    Now this infantryman spends a little more time indoors, working to get Soldiers on the track they need to be. As the non-commissioned officer in charge of the deployment cell for 1/25 SBCT's Deployment Reintegration Cell, Cook oversees Soldiers on their way to getting deployed forward. Cook spoke on what it was like shifting into this position and dealing with new problems.

    “When I first got here it was rough because I didn't have an officer and I was the only NCO,” he said.

    Although his team was small starting out, Cook has rolled with the punches and become accustomed to his new title. He reflected on his duty.

    “Sometimes during the week I'm thinking 'alright I've got 20 people ready and they're getting on planes in Fairbanks going to theatre', he said.

    Cook went on to outline how hard it can be to watch Soldiers go forward into a deployment that may be fraught with danger.

    “Sometimes its hard to step away, because you're working with these Soldiers for so long that if you're not working that night, helping them out you think, 'aw man something's going to go wrong', but in reality that's not the case,” he said.

    Looking forward to the future, Cook plans to stay in Alaska even after he leaves the Army. He has a word of advice for anyone looking to make the most of their stay.

    “If you don't get out you're not going to like it here,” he said, “You'll go crazy being cooped inside all day. Even its just going out to Birch Hill and snowboarding for a couple hours. It's better than sitting at home.”



    Date Taken: 01.20.2020
    Date Posted: 01.21.2020 03:21
    Story ID: 359737
    Location: FORT WAINWRIGHT, AK, US 
    Hometown: OXFORD, ME, US

    Web Views: 647
    Downloads: 1