Salem, N.H. One of the five American soldiers who died this week when a barrage of rockets slammed into a base in Iraq was from Salem, N.H.
Pfc. Michael Cook, who had been in Iraq since November, graduated from Salem High School in 2003. Monday, the day of the attack, was Cook's 27th birthday.
Cook was stationed at Fort Riley with his wife and two children. He also had family in Middletown, Ohio. His parents live in Salem, where his younger brother is a sophomore at the high school.
Plans are to honor Cook with a moment of silence at Friday's graduation ceremony, said Heidi Greenlaw, director of guidance at Salem High School. Cook will also be recognized at a Veterans Day ceremony at the school and his name will be added to a plaque honoring four other graduates who have died in overseas conflicts in recent years, she said.
At the school, "he was very involved in the computer applications program," Greenlaw said. "He actually worked an independent study with a computer teacher to create yearbooks for the fifth graders in the elementary schools in the district. Basically this was Michael's idea, and they actually continue today."
New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen issued statements thanking Cook for his service and extending condolences to his family.
Lynch called Cook "a hero to all of us." Shaheen wrote, "Like many brave sons and daughters of New Hampshire, he sought to serve his country and protect his fellow Americans, and he did so with honor and courage."
The attack was the largest, single-day loss of life for U.S. forces in Iraq in two years.