Lt. Col. (Ret.) James Kenneth Cooksey
July 10, 1937 - February 14, 2019
Jim was born in Louisa, Kentucky on July 10, 1937, to June Cooksey and Lafe Cooksey, Jr. He is survived by his wife Kay and son Jimmie of Orlando, daughter Elizabeth Paolero, (Anthony), grandchildren Maddie and A.J. of Portsmoth, RI, sister Marybeth Goodburn
(Paul) of Deerfield Beach Island, FL, and extended family, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Gary King of KY, and Mathew Butler of GA. Although Jim battled lung cancer caused by Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam since 2007, complications following a hip surgery were the cause of his death.
Jim grew up in Columbus, Ohio and married Madaline Kay Patton, whom he met at Ohio State, December 18, 1960. Jim was a great husband, father, son, brother, Cub Scout leader, marathon runner, and Sunday
School teacher. He was a member of Curry Ford and Conway United Methodist Churches. Jim was respected for his intelligence, ethics, congenial attitude and ability to speak to individuals of every level. He was known for his generosity as a husband, father and friend.
Jim was more than a good soldier; he was a man that cared for all. He was God's Servant.
Jim graduated from Ohio State with a BS degree in geology as Cadet Colonel commanding a 2500-man ROTC Brigade. In 1961 Jim was commissioned as a Distinguished Military Graduate 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army.
He spent his first years in the Army at Fort Lewis Washington, and at the Artillery Officers Basic Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In 1962, after graduating from Airborne and Ranger schools at Fort Benning, Georgia he went back to Fort Lewis. From there he went to flight school to learn to fly helicopters.
Following flight school at Ft. Wolters, Texas, and Ft. Rucker, AL, he was sent to Vietnam where he was a gunship pilot and fire team leader with the 52nd Aviation Battalion in Vietnam. This unit served in direct support of the Marines at Da Nang.
In 1965 he was shot down while flying a gunship. After recovery, he spent the last three months of the year in Hue, providing support for the 1st Vietnamese Infantry Division. He commanded a composite of Huey "Slicks" and Huey gunships.
In 1965, he attended the career artillery officer course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Jim spent the next year and a half as an instructor pilot at Fort Wolters, Texas. In 1967 he served his second tour in Vietnam as Operations Officer and the Platoon Leader with the 180th Assault Helicopter Company 1st Aviation Brigade, this time flying Chinooks. After that, Jim was an instructor pilot at Ft. Wolters and G2 at Fort Campbell, KY.
Jim was then sent to Ft. Hood, TX, to MASSTER and Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1975.
In 1980 the Army sent him to Korea as 2nd in command of Camp Humphries. Then he was sent to Orlando to PM Trade (Known for Strengthening the Warfighter through Simulation). He retired from the Army in 1981.
Some of the awards he received include the: Ranger Tab, Parachutist Badge, Army Aviator Badge, Purple Heart, Air Medal with Valor, National Defense Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the
Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (palm), Bronze Star, and the Vietnamese Service Medal.
Following his retirement Jim worked as a project manager for 20 years at various companies including Northrop, Advanced Technologies, Sherikon, TRW and Palau. Jim was instrumental in establishing a
number of simulation systems for teaching troops the use of military and aviation armor.
Jim received a commendation as Conference Chairman of Interservice/Industry Conference ( I/ITSEC) in the training and simulation community and especially for leadership in the culmination of the extraordinary
success of the 1998 Conference and Exhibition, the first in the Orange County Convention Center. Jim was also active in the Army Aviation Association where he was once President. He was a long time
member of NDIA. (National Defense Industry Association). Jim received the Honorable Order of St. Michael Bronze Award for Tried and Proven Army Aviators and Aviation Patriots. This award is for “. . . the
embodiment of courage, justice, and gallantry . . . and represents excellence in aviation.”
Jim's memorial service will be held at 10 am Saturday, February 23 at Colonial Chapel/Carey Hand: 2811 Curry Ford Road, Orlando, FL, 32806. Inurnment will be at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, please support the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, 1 East Wacker Drive, Suite 1730, Chicago, IL 60601 (800-377-3978) https://dystonia-foundation.org/donate
WHAT A WONDERUL FT. HOOD NEIGHBOR AND FRIEND ALL THESE YEARS. I'M SO THANKFUL FOR THIS OUTSTANDING PATRIOT AND FOR HIS LOVING FAMILY.
Susan LotzHOUSTON, TX
I am honored to have known Jim and hear of all his contributions to the US, his family and friends so eloquently stated today at the service. He truly was a wonderful man who served his God, family and country 100%. Although I knew he was a great Patriot I never realized the extent until after he was gone. You are a very blessed family and I pray God will give you the comfort and peace to go on without such a devoted family member. Jim is at peace now with God and will be waiting for the day to meet you all again. My very deepest sympathies to a wonderful family and awesome friend!
Maureen ShortOrlando, FL
My prayers are with the family. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to meet Mr. Cooksey while traveling with Gary Ki g. What a great husband, father, grandfather, and friend. God Bless.
I enjoyed working with you Jim at STRICOM . Your
smile and friendship will be missed. The Protocol Officer
Marge hadbavnyWinter Springs, FL
It has been my great privilege to know the entire Cooksey Family. I understand the value of a great patriarch such as Lt. Col. Cooksey, I too was blessed with a father who shared the same ideals, humility and integrity with Lt. Col. Cooksey. Often my father told me what an honor it was to call him friend. May we left behind carry on with the same strength of character they passed on to us.
Beth Lacy SimsMiami, FL, FL
Jim was my boss and good friend for many years in the defense industry. He was one of the happiest, kindness, and most generous people I've ever known. His knowledge in the defense simulation industry was well respected by all. He was certainly an incredible man who shared, gave to everyone and never had a bad day. He was a friend to everyone he met.
JoAnne WingWinter Springs, FL
The NDIA Central Florida Board of directors sends our love and condolences during this time of bereavement. We are forever grateful for Mr. Cooksey's service.
Tiffany SandersOrlando, FL
A better friend you couldn't ask for. We will miss him very much.
Paul and Stacy BernhardtViera, FL
What a great life you gave me. I love you. Kay