CAMP COOKE AND VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, 1941-1966 is the fascinating story of a military installation originally built as an armored and infantry training camp on the eve of America’s entry into World War II. It takes us through the war years in a series of notable events transpiring at Camp Cooke and on the war front. The book follows a similar path in discussing the Korean War. The story eventually leads us to the transformation of Cooke into America’s prominent space and missile base known as Vandenberg AFB, the site of the first ICBM missiles on alert with nuclear warheads.

During World War II and the Korean War, thousands of soldiers not only trained at Cooke, they were entertained by scores of visiting USO troupes. The shows featured many of Hollywood’s legendary entertainers as well as numerous other luminaries from radio and stage, and the sports world. The soldiers who trained at Cooke were later engaged in some of the bloodiest battles of both wars. As evidence of this carnage, six Congressional Medal of Honor recipients came from Camp Cooke and each man’s heroic actions is discussed in this book.

The Air Force portion of the book examines early missile and space programs and reveals several significant accidents. One of these accidents tragically claimed the life of a young airman. These stories are followed by a concise historical summary of Vandenberg’s launch facilities and the missile and space boosters flown from the base between 1958 and 2014. Included in the book are visits to the base by President Kennedy and the humorous story of Russian Premier Khrushchev’s train ride across America that almost ended in a diplomatic incident.

The book’s military theme encompasses more than sixty years of American history. Through hot wars and a cold war it is a story about how ordinary people performed extraordinary services for their country and fellow countrymen during those times.

Softcover 6 x 9.

284 pages, 102 photos, 5 maps, 7 appendices, notes, bibliography, and index.