A flock of doves and a vintage bomber flyover were just two of the special ways an army of volunteers helped give Mesa World War II veteran Glenn Cook a final sendoff on Veterans Day after The Arizona Republic sought help from the community to honor him.
Cook’s family had tried desperately to obtain 70-year-old paperwork to request an official military burial before the holiday but were stymied by federal bureaucracy.
A story by The Republic, shared on social media Friday by U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., led not only to a contingent of Air Force officials to perform the full ritual but also volunteers who added further commemorations.
The ceremony “was really nice,” Cook’s nephew Rick Travis told the newspaper. “So thank you very much for all you have done.”
Members of the American Legion showed up for prayers at the funeral service, Travis recounted. A motorcycle group arranged by Flake’s office, the Arizona Patriot Guard Riders, followed the casket from the funeral home to the grave site,flying a large American flag.
Active Air Force officials folded the flag and gave it to a retired colonel and friend of Cook, who then presented it to his daughter.
A bugler, found by The Republic through the Buglers Across America organization, chimed in with “Taps.” Then 25 white doves were released by a local company, Elizabeth’s Arizona Doves, Travis said.
Lastly, pilots from the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum on their way to Veterans Day events flew over the service several times in vintage airplanes, similar to the B-17s that Cook taught airmen to bomb from during the war.
Bill “Wildhorse” Wooster, a member of the Arizona Patriot Guard Riders, met with the family at the funeral and described the scene.
“After the service, the family and coach were escorted to graveside by our Honor bikes and jeep, where … PGR members were standing tall with American flags for the service,” Wildhorse wrote on Facebook. “Glenn Richard Cook was given the Honor and Respect he deserved as he was laid to rest. I would like to thank everyone involved for their efforts.”
Travis hopes other families make arrangements ahead of time for veterans’ military burials by making sure they have a copy of the loved one’s discharge paperwork, known as a DD 214.
Copies can be requested from the National Archives at https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records.
“Once someone dies, you’re really limited on time,” Travis said.
A representative from the National Archives told The Republic on Monday that the agency could not find the request Travis said he submitted for Cook’s paperwork. Travis said he placed the request online on Nov. 5 or 6 and called to follow up but could not get through to a person.
The National Archives official said users sometimes have trouble with the online system and said he would contact the family.
He noted that users who successfully submit requests online will receive an emailed copy of the request and paperwork to sign and return. Anyone who does not receive that confirmation should submit again.
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