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The View From Oyaron Hill

Campus Safety Officer Receives Naval Honor


Courtney Mallard

On October 15th, 2017, Hartwick College’s newest Campus Safety officer Casey Cole was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (NAM). The NAM is awarded “for meritorious service or achievement in combat or non-combat circumstances based on sustained performance or specific achievement of a superlative nature.”

Or Cole’s own words: “It’s given to sailors who go above and beyond. Who go the extra step, the extra mile, to, in their job or in anything. It shows that they’re willing to do extra work and work harder in their occupation.”

On a personal level, it means it means something more. “It’s extremely humbling. It’s not something I was looking for, or trying to get. When I go into my drill weekends, I just go, and I do my job, and I have a certain standard set for myself. I guess it’s working out for me, you know? I didn’t join the Navy to make friends or to just twiddle my thumbs. I joined to serve my country, have a purpose and do something for… do something [for more than] just myself. Something above just me.”

It was, to her, a bit of a surprise to be recognized. “Like I said, when I go, I just go and I do my job. And I work hard at it, and… not everyone has similar determination or work ethic. Yeah, it was a shock. I wasn’t expecting it at all, ‘cause you don’t look for an award, they just kind of happen. And it’s your senior leadership that notices the work and then they put in for it.”

And she certainly does work hard. “So, I’m in the Reserves, so one weekend a month, I go into my Reserve Center and I work. And then two weeks a year, usually in the summer, we go and do more work. I’m the Assistant LPO (Lead Petty Officer) of my unit, which is basically like an assistant-manager type thing. I help run the unit, and a lot of administrative stuff.”

It can be a challenge to be working with folks a so much older than oneself, but she handles it in stride and military discipline helps out, too. “Each position comes with positional authority in the military. The chain of command is a very serious thing. So, even though I’m, y’know, younger, people who are twice, three times my age will still, if they respect the rules, regulations, they will follow orders. Following orders is following orders, no matter who gives them.”

Cole has been serving in the US Navy for just over three years now, but it runs in the family. “My grandfather served, I’m pretty sure he served for the full twenty. My father served for the full twenty, and my uncle did. All three of them in the navy, so it’s a family thing. So I just, I had to continue it.”

For her, it was never a choice of if, but when. “I always knew I wanted to join, but I just didn’t know when. So I waited until I had my Associate’s and then I decided to go in with the credits and I joined and then I finished my degree after I joined.”

“The navy’s amazing. It’s taught me a lot of things, especially leadership qualities. Everyone’s groomed to be a leader no matter what your rank or standing is. Everyone’s taught to take care of the people they work with.”

So, who is Casey Cole outside of work? “I’m actually pretty nerdy to be honest. And I use that with a positive connotation. I think being nerdy is actually pretty cool. Outside of being Campo, or you know, petty officer Cole, I go to the gym a lot, I like to work out, but I also like to play guitar and I like to read a lot and I like to play video games. I like to dabble in a little bit of everything, because I mean, you know, mind, body, and emotions, that’s where it’s at. Just gotta keep everything balanced. I like to hike, work out, I really like to run. I played rugby for a bit, but… yeah, outside of here, I’m actually pretty normal…hmm—normal’s boring. I like to think of myself as nerdy and unique.”

Interview is edited for clarity and length.