“The outgoing Battalion Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Norman C. Cooling, conducted a change of command ceremony with incoming Battalion Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Nathan I. Nastase.” — Source: 3/3 Command Chronology for the Period 01 October to 31 December 2006
“After the Memorial Service the Battalion finished preparations for the Battalion Commander’s Change of Command Ceremony. On 23 October the outgoing Battalion Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Norman C. Cooling, passed the Battalion Colors to Lieutenant Colonel Nathan I. Nastase at Dewey Square. A reception occurred at the Officer’s Club following the ceremony. An engraved table commemorating the Battalion’s recent Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) deployments was presented to the Club from the Officers in the Battalion. At the conclusion of this reception the Battalion began the post deployment leave block.” — Source: 3/3 Command Chronology for the Period 01 October to 31 December 2006
Warrior bids farewell to ‘America’s Battalion’
By Cpl. Sara A. Carter | Marine Corps Base Hawaii | October 23, 2006
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII — Being in the military is a unique job that requires Marines to be away from their families for long periods of time for training and deployments. One commander, who relinquished his command of 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Monday, was deployed much more than he was home.
Lt. Col. Norman Cooling, commanding officer of America’s Battalion from June 2004 to Oct. has been deployed 37 out of the last 44 months. Two of the three deployments he made during this time were with the Marines from 3/3 to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Cooling is the first commanding officer for the regiment to lead Marines in both operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, although he said once the commanders from 1st Battalion and 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines complete their tour in Iraq, they all will have lead their Marines through both conflicts.
While on the month-long Rim of the Pacific Exercise in June 2004, Cooling said he received a message at sea saying his unit was going to Afghanistan. At the time, the unit was only at 60 percent end strength.
“We had to come back and replace all of those who were non-deployable and rapidly increase training,” he said. “We pretty much started with a fresh staff.”
The new staff had to be identified quickly so the unit could start their workups for the deployment to Operation Enduring Freedom November 2004.
The training leading up to the deployment was intense, according to Cooling. Because the training had to be done in places such as Miramar, Calif., and Bridgeport, Calif., the Marines were not only gone for seven months during their deployment, they were gone for almost the entire five months prior to deployment for to training exercises.
“We participated in a Revised Combined Arms Exercise, a security and support exercise in Miramar and Mountain Warfare Training course in Bridgeport,” Cooling said. “In four months time, we went from individual training to battalion training.
While Cooling was preparing his battalion for combat, his wife Beth and children Caroline, 13, and John Ross, 9, settled into their new home in Hawaii.
“It’s been a tough couple of years for the kids,” Beth said. “Great friends and neighbors make it easier.”
The battalion left for OEF as scheduled in November 2004 and returned in June 2005. Once they returned, the unit had to once again be rebuilt, because there were Marines moving to new duty stations or getting out of the Corps.
Soon the battalion began their workups for Iraq. They deployed for three weeks to the island of Hawaii for crew-serve weapons training, then spent almost two months participating in Mojave Viper in California, and then another month on the Big Island where they participated in Hawaii Combined Arms Exercise.
In March, the unit left for OIF. This deployment was Cooling’s second to Iraq. He served during OIF I with 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
“It’s been educational to serve and command in two different combat environments,” he said.
According to Col. Gregory Boyle, commanding officer, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Battalion was successful in both conflicts.
“The reason they were successful was the way (Cooling) prepared the battalion,” Boyle said at the change-of-command ceremony. “His men respect him, and he cares about his men.”
Cooling said he understands how difficult it has been on his wife and children during his deployments, so he is excited about not having to deploy and being able to spend time with his family.
Because Cooling is attending the Naval War College Senior Course for a year, the Cooling’s are moving to Newport, R.I., which means Caroline and John Ross will be moving halfway through the school year.
“It’s hard on them,” Beth said. “This is Caroline’s seventh school she has attended, and she is only in the eighth grade. John Ross is in the third grade and has been in three schools.”
“Making all new friends is the hardest part,” Caroline said.
Beth said one of the good things about deployments is that it makes the family closer.
The children are also looking forward to spending this time with their father. John Ross, who plays baseball, football and soccer said he can’t wait for his dad to be able to watch some of his games. Caroline likes that she can play cards, especially “rummy,” with her dad.
Although the Cooling’s are moving on to their next home, they said that memories and friends they have made here will be with them no matter where they go.
“I am truly honored that I got to serve with the men of Americas Battalion,” Cooling said.
Source: Hawaii Marine