COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A disabled World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient is helping out Richland County deputies by donating money to buy bulletproof vests.
He says he was motivated by his experience 70 years ago on the battlefield, and wants to make sure the deputies who protect him are always safe. The vests cost about $600 each,and because of his $1,300 donation two deputies now have new bullet proof vests when they hit the streets.
Robert Cook, Jr., 86, knows what it's like to be on the front line. The memories still run deep. "I was wounded in France, and I've had a lot of time to think about that how we wrapped overcoats and stuff around us to try and stop shrapnel," he said.
That feeling of being in harm's way is something Cook still struggles with. It's also the reason he wanted to protect the deputies in Richland county who risk their lives every day. "I felt like it would take stress off of him a little bit more and off their families when they go out every day," said Cook.
Sheriff Leon Lott says it's a huge help to the department, since the $600 bulletproof vests have to be replaced every five years for over 600 deputies.
"It's was a total surprise when he wrote the letter and sent the check in," said Lott. "This was something that he just thought of entirely on his own, and he wanted to protect our deputies. He's saved taxpayers money today, but he's also saved a life. And to me, that's more important."
The two deputies who will now wear the vests in the line of fire were also moved by the donation. "It blew me away today that a guy who fought for our country thought about a little fellow like me," said Dujuan Council.