Virginia Beach Fire Department’s first African American firefighter passes away

Anthony "Tony" Cooke, Virginia Beach Fire Department's first African American firefighter, has passed away at 66.
Anthony “Tony” Cooke, Virginia Beach Fire Department’s first African American firefighter, has passed away at 66.

The Virginia Beach Fire Department announced on Wednesday afternoon that the city’s first African American firefighter, Anthony “Tony” Cooke, has passed away.

Cooke was 66 years old.

Cooke, who served with the department for 25 years, started his career in February 1976. After 10 years of service, he was given the department’s Medal of Honor for his role in rescuing four children from an apartment fire on Dillon Drive. When he retired, Cooke had earned the rank of master firefighter.

“To say that Tony served with distinction during his 25-years with the fire department is an understatement and does not even begin to describe the legacy he leaves to both VBFD and the citizens of Virginia Beach,” a post on the department’s Facebook page read.

Before becoming a firefighter, Cooke served in the U.S. Army and completed a tour in Vietnam.

The “devoted Dallas Cowboys fan” will be laid to rest with full honors. Details about a memorial service for Cooke will be released by the department.

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