SALEM — Army Pfc. Michael Cook was just one of several members of his Salem High School graduating class to serve his country
This week, he was the third from the Class of 2003 to die in the line of duty.
Cook was killed Monday while serving as part of Operation New Dawn in Iraq. He was among five soldiers killed when rockets struck their base in Baghdad.
It was his 27th birthday.
Cook and his wife, Samantha, have two young children, Hailee and Michael III.
Cook was remembered yesterday as a charismatic, intelligent man who was always willing to help others.
"He always had a smile and was always positive," said Curtis Killion, Cook's computer science teacher at Salem High School.
Killion and Superintendent of Schools Michael Delahanty recalled how Cook was the type of student who always stood out.
"He was very bright," Delahanty said. "There are some kids who stand out, and Michael was one of those kids."
Although it's been nearly a decade since Delahanty was principal of Salem High, he clearly remembered Cook's fondness for computers while he was a student at the school.
Killion told of how Cook volunteered to put together a yearbook for the district's elementary school students.
"He would always volunteer," Killion said.
"He was the kind of kid that all the younger ones were comfortable with."
Cook's two siblings are still students in the school system. Lucas is a student at Salem High and Kimberly attends Woodbury Middle School.
Delahanty also remembered Cook for his engaging personality, an important trait for someone sent to Iraq as an adviser.
"Michael had one of those personalities that would bridge any communication gap," Delahanty said.
Cook was the third member of the 2003 Salem High graduating class to die serving in Iraq.