LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By the hundreds, friends and family of 2nd Lieutenant Zac Cook gathered Saturday at First Baptist Church in Lufkin to pay their final respects.
The 22-year-old was killed Monday, when the helicopter he was training in crashed on the campus of Texas A&M University. Friends said they will remember Cook as a consummate gentleman and for his selfless generosity.
As the funeral services began, words from Zac Cook's favorite scripture brought fitting comfort to many of those who gathered to remember their friend, brother, and son. Pictures of Cook scrolled on a projection screen high above the sanctuary.
"You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day," repeated Officiating clergyman Andrew G. Pittman. Officiating clergyman Nolan Duck also shared his memories of Zac. "I remember the first time I met Zac, I don't know if he stuck out because he was taller than everyone else." Laughter followed.
Zac Cook loved laughter. Throughout the service, those who spoke often relied on memories of Cook that brought smiles to the faces of those gathered.
Hall Henderson, a longtime friend, recalled Cook's dedication as a soldier and a friend. He said, "He was sure that he got the maximum potential out of every single day. He lived his life to the fullest. He achieved everything he wanted."
Hundreds of people, some who didn't know Zac, came to pay respect.
The man piloting the downed helicopter, Lt. Ellis Taylor, brought comfort to the Cook family. 2nd Lt. David Cook, Zac's Brother, said (to Lieutenant Taylor), "You made a real big statement today by showing up."
Zac's Cook's friends said he will be remembered as a leader. Though, often a man of few words, Cook's actions embodied selflessness. Austin Carnes, a fellow member of Parsons Mounted Cavalry at Texas A&M said, "I just knew he held himself as a leader. [He was] a leader as an Aggie and also a Christian."
A burial service followed the funeral services at First Baptist Church. Dozens of American Flags waved in the breeze above the mourners. A symbolic saddled horse, with boots turned backward in the stirrups stood in the distance. Military cannons then rang out over Garden of Memories Memorial Park, Cook final resting place.
It was clear that he had a resounding impact on everyone he met. The greatest impact of all was on his brother David, who's found peace in knowing that Zac was doing what he loved most. He was at home, in the sky.