Travis R. Cook
Technical Sergeant
U. S. Army Air Forces
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 08/22/1942 - 10/14/1945
Parachute rigger, 43 Air Depot Repair Sq.

Travis was born near Newsome, Texas, as the fifth of nine children of William Warren and Mattie Mae Griffith Cook. His father, a sharecropper, also worked in a saw mill. Travis helped with farm chores. He was plowing behind a mule at age six, and later could pick about 150 pounds of cotton a day. Travis graduated from Indian Rock High School in 1939, and went to work for Gilmer Motor Company on July 4 that year. He soon met Helen Ethyl Smith. They were planning to marry but they postponed the date after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and eventually wed on February 7, 1942. They would have three children. Travis was working for Brown & Root Company in New Boston, Texas, when he was drafted on August 10, 1942 into the U.S. Army Air Forces. He was sent to basic training at Kearns Field in Salt Lake City, Utah. Upon completion of basic training in November he was sent to parachute school at Cal-Aero Flight Academy in Riverside, California, where he learned to repair and pack parachutes. He was then sent to Albuquerque where he remained from August to September of 1943. By then a staff sergeant, he was assigned to the 43rd Air Depot Repair Squadron. His unit sailed in September of 1943 aboard the Queen Mary from New York Harbor to Glasgow, Scotland, and then by train to Grove Air Force Base near Wantage, Oxfordshire, England. Travis often worked 12-hour days, seven days a week, packing and re-packing parachutes for crew members of B-26 bombers and P-47 fighters stationed there at the base. He also designed a method to install inflatable dinghies, or life rafts, in the bombers. Travis crossed over into France in September of 1944, when he waded ashore at Omaha Beach and walked "four or five miles" before bedding down in a tent for the night. He helped set up Airstrip Base 55 in Milan, France, then was tapped to lead an advance party to establish operations at Airstrip A-70 in December. There the base was strafed five nights in a row. On May 6, 1945 he was sent to Speyer, Germany, but stayed only three days until Germany's surrender. He returned to Lyon, France where he made courier runs, delivering sealed packets of communications to Brussels and Antwerp. Travis left his unit on October 6 and was transferred to a Signal Corps unit on the same base. He returned to the states aboard a Liberty ship converted to a freighter. After his discharge in San Antonio Travis worked for M.I. Davis Company in Shreveport, then trained as an insurance adjuster and opened Emmco Insurance on September 4, 1951. He worked in Emmco offices in Dallas and South Bend, Indiana, before retiring in 1975 and starting his own insurance business.