The life and military career of the man whose name was given to Camp Cooke, which would eventually become Vandenberg Air Force Base, will be the topic of November’s Valley Speaks program.

Cary Gray will be the featured speaker at the event set for 11 a.m. on Saturday at Shepard Hall in the Santa Maria Public Library.

Major Gen. Philip St. George Cooke served more than 40 years in the U.S. Army and is considered the father of the U.S. Cavalry.

Saturday’s event, which is sponsored by the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society, will feature information about Cooke’s service in California.

His name was given to Camp Cooke when the Army came to the Central Coast to build a new training base in 1941. Camp Cooke later became Cooke Air Force Base and is now Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Gray will review Cooke's life from 1809 until his death in 1895, and a video about building Camp Cooke will be shown.

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Gray is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who held several positions during his time at Vandenberg Air Force Base including: chief of Logistics for Future Missile Testing; chief of the Space & Missile Orientation Course, Vandenberg public affairs officer; and Vandenberg community liaison Ooficer.

Before Cary's commissioning as a 2nd lieutenant, he was an enlisted airman who was assigned to the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing in England, monitoring air traffic over the Minnesota and Canadian Air Defense Region. As a staff sergeant, he tracked satellites at NORAD Headquarters in Cheyenne Mountain. After his commissioning, he served with a missile unit in Wyoming and was program manager of the cruise missile deployment into the Kingdom of Belgium.

Valley Speaks is free and open to the public. Organizers suggest arriving early as seating is limited. For more details, call 922-3130 or e-mail the Historical Museum at smvhsmuseum@outlook.com

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