Sam Harris Cook, Sr., 95 of Navasota, Texas passed away peacefully, May 17, 2020, surrounded by family at Hospice of Brazos Valley Inpatient in Bryan, Texas. Visitation will be held Thursday, May 21, from 9:00am-12:00pm at Nobles Funeral Chapel. There will be a private graveside service. A memorial service will be held to celebrate his life at a later date. Arrangements are under the direction of Nobles Funeral Chapel.
Sam was born in Mt. Pleasant, Texas on February 8, 1925, to Edd and Willie Cook. His time in East Texas gave him a love for God, the world God created, and his country. He enlisted in the Navy after graduation from Mt. Pleasant High School in 1943. He proudly served as a coxswain with Standard Landing Craft Unit 18 during WWII as a part of the amphibious landing forces. He served in the Solomon, Manus, Emirau, and Admiralty Islands of the South Pacific with Boat Pool 15. He had many happy reunions with his Navy friends through the years. After the war, he attended East Texas State Teachers College where he met his wife of 58 years, Mary Ross. Sam and Mary had three children while living in Dallas in the 1950s. Sam was a gifted salesman and put that talent to work by establishing his own business in Houston in 1961. He moved to Navasota in 1976 after semi-retirement and enjoyed all 44 years he lived there.
Sam was always active in church. He was a founding member of Spring Woods Baptist Church in Houston when his children were teenagers and was a constant youth sponsor and driver for mission trips and the bus ministry. He has been a member of First Baptist Church of Navasota since 1976 where he has served in many capacities. He loved to talk about Jesus and do the work of the church. He served as a Deacon and then as Deacon Emeritus. He also served on the Mission Committee because he loved both local and international missions and missionaries.
Sam was preceded in death by his loving wife, Mary. He is survived by his children Sam Cook, II and his wife Karen from Rome, Georgia; Sharon Cook Lee and her husband Curtis of Grand Prairie, Texas; and Sandie Cook Lys of Navasota. His grandchildren and their spouses/fiancés: Kaisha and Larry Baughman, Hope Lohse, Andrew Cook, LeAnna Cook and Martin Guzman, Matthew Cook, Ryan Cook, Jeffrey and Alicia Lee, Jason and Deborah Lee, Jody Alan Lee and Amanda Bennett, Jana Lee, Melissa and Stephen Flournoy, Michael and Allycenn Lys, Marcus Lys and Alexandra McLain. He also leaves 12 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild.
Special thanks to Dr. Katie Blalock, Hospice of Brazos Valley, and Hillary from Visiting Angels.
Serving as pallbearers are Larry Baughman, Jason Lee, Michael Lys, Marcus Lys, Kyle Duffy, and Stephen Flournoy. Honorary pallbearers include Hollis Hood, Buck Isbell, Jerry Strode, Al Blue, Andrew Cook, and Ryan Cook.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to CBF missionaries Jeff and Alicia Lee, Operation Christmas Child, or a charity of your choosing.
You are invited to leave kind words and fond memories at
Added by Hollis Hood
USNR 4/1943 - 12/1945
SIGNIFICANT DUTY STATIONS
ADMIRALTY ISLANDS BOAT POOL 15
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX
FORT ORD, CA SLCU-18
FLORIDA ISLAND NAVY-152
AMERICAN CAMPAIGN MEDAL
ASIATIC PACIFIC CAMPAIGN MEDAL W/2 STARS
WORLD WAR II VICTORY MEDAL
Sam was assigned to the USS Mount Hood and was one of 18 not aboard when the ship exploded. He tells the story that he had just made Coxswain. Being newest boat driver at the time, he was called back to take the garbage out 10 miles and dump it. As he was going out the ship exploded killing 249 still on board. The explosion was not due to enemy action; its cause has never been determined. The USS Mindanao (ARG-3), which lay about 300 m away, was heavily damaged by this explosion and 180 of her crewmen were killed or injured.
USS Mount Hood (AE-11) was the lead ship of her class of ammunition ships for the United States Navy in World War II. She was the first ship named after Mount Hood, a volcano in the Cascade Range in Oregon. On 10 November 1944, shortly after 18 men had departed for shore leave, the rest of the crew were killed when the ship exploded in Seeadler Harbor at Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. The ship was obliterated while also sinking or severely damaging 22 smaller craft nearby.
Marco Polo was a cargo ship built under a US Maritime Commission contract (as MC hull 1356), by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Co., Wilmington, North Carolina.
The ship was renamed Mount Hood on 10 November 1943; launched on 28 November 1943; sponsored by Mrs. A. J. Reynolds; acquired by the Navy on loan-charter basis on 28 January 1944; converted by the Norfolk Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Norfolk, Virginia, and the Norfolk Navy Yard; and commissioned on 1 July 1944, Comdr. Harold A. Turner in command.
Following an abbreviated fitting out and shakedown period in the Chesapeake Bay area, ammunition ship Mount Hood reported for duty to ComServFor, Atlantic Fleet, on 5 August 1944. Assigned to carry cargo to the Pacific, she put into Norfolk, where her holds were loaded. On 21 August, as a unit of Task Group 29.6, she transited the Panama Canal on the 27th, and continued on, independently, via Finschafen, New Guinea. Mount Hood arrived at Seeadler Harbor, in Manus Island of the Admiralty Islands, on 22 September. Assigned to ComSoWesPac, she commenced dispensing ammunition and explosives to ships preparing for the Philippine offensive.
At 08:30 on 10 November 1944, a party consisting of communications officer, Lt. Lester H. Wallace, and 17 men left the ship and headed for shore. At 08:55, while walking on the beach, they saw a flash from the harbor, followed by two quick explosions. Scrambling into their boat, they headed back to the ship, only to turn around again shortly thereafter as "There was nothing but debris all around...".
Mount Hood, anchored in about 35 ft (11 m) of water, had exploded with an estimated 3,800 long tons (3,900 t) of ordnance material on board. The initial explosion caused flame and smoke to shoot up from amidships to more than masthead height. Within seconds, the bulk of her cargo detonated with a more intense explosion. Mushrooming smoke rose to 7,000 ft (2,100 m), obscuring the ship and the surrounding area for a radius of approximately 500 yd (460 m). Mount Hood's former position was revealed by a trench in the ocean floor 1,000 ft (300 m) long, 200 ft (61 m) wide, and 30–40 ft (9–12 m) deep. The largest remaining piece of the hull was found in the trench and measured no bigger than 16 by 10 ft (5 by 3 m). No other remains of Mount Hood were found except fragments of metal which had struck other ships in the harbor and a few tattered pages of a signal notebook found floating in the water several hundred yards away. No human remains were recovered of the 350 men aboard Mount Hood or small boats loading alongside at the time of the explosion. The only survivors from the Mount Hood crew were Lt. Wallace and the 17 enlisted men who had left the ship a short time before the explosion. Two of the crew were being transferred to the base brig for trial by court martial; and the remainder of the party were visiting the base chaplain or picking up mail at the base post office. Charges against the prisoners were dropped following the explosion.
The concussion and metal fragments hurled from the ship caused casualties and damage to other ships and small craft within 2,000 yd (1,800 m). The repair ship Mindanao, which was broadside-on to the blast, was the most seriously damaged. All personnel topside on Mindanao were killed outright, and dozens of men were killed or wounded below decks as numerous heavy fragments from Mount Hood penetrated the side plating. Eighty-two of Mindanao's crew died. 22 small boats and landing craft were sunk, destroyed, or damaged beyond repair, while damage to other vessels required more than 100,000 man-hours to repair; 371 sailors were injured from all ships in the harbor.
A board convened to examine evidence relating to the disaster was unable to ascertain the exact cause. After only a little over four months' service, Mount Hood was struck from the Naval Register on 11 December 1944.