Nathan Cole will serve as the Tempe JROTC battalion commander next year. The Highground family is so proud!
From the Arizona Republic:
Desert Vista student will lead district’s JROTC cadets
by Cathryn Creno – Jun. 6, 2011 10:09 AM
The Arizona Republic
Desert Vista High School senior Nathan Cole has dreamed of being in the military since he was in the fifth grade.
But when he was a freshman who wanted to join Tempe Union High School District’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, his parents sat him down for a talk.
“We warned him that some kids could mock him for being in the ROTC,” said Heather Cole, Nathan’s mom and an administrative assistant at Horizon Community Learning Center in Ahwatukee Foothills. “But he just looked at me and said ‘Mom, what makes you think that I won’t make this cool? Maybe people will join JROTC because of me,’ ” she recalled.
Â In his three years with JROTC, Cole says he has found the experience to be anything but nerdy. The rangy Desert Vista hockey goalie and lacrosse faceoff specialist hasn’t been subjected to much teasing. Most students show respect when he wears his uniform around campus, Cole said.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “I like being a leader and I love being at the center of the action. I can’t stand being on the sidelines.”
Next fall, Cole will serve as the Tempe JROTC battalion commander. That means he will lead 257 cadets from Tempe’s six high schools. He’s the first student from Desert Vista to be appointed to the post.
“We all are proud of Nathan’s position,” said Desert Vista Principal Anna Battle, who announced it recently in her weekly letter to parents. “Desert Vista is about excellence and opportunities to be the very best. This is Nathan’s opportunity.”
Cole, who says he has a high B grade-point average, beat out three other candidates with all A’s. He was chosen to lead the JROTC by program director Pat Stolze, a retired lieutenant colonel.
“Nathan is unique,” Stoltz said. “I did have some better-achievers GPA-wise, but he has great leadership potential.”
Part of the interview for the battalion commander job involved questions about military history, regulations and current events.
Although Cole says he has dyslexia and reading is not his favorite activity, he relished the challenge, answering questions ranging from details about the United States’ military involvement in Egypt to the size of earrings a female cadet is permitted to wear while in uniform.
Cole said he also loves to talk about the issues with his peers at Desert Vista, many of whom oppose American military involvement in the Middle East.
A sample of his viewpoints:
Â North Korea is the biggest threat to the United States. “I have a feeling North Korea is going to do something stupid like launch a missile at or shoot at one of our ships,” Cole said. “I have a feeling we are going to be over there one day.”
Â The most interesting battle Cole has studied is World War II’s Battle of the Bulge. It began in December 1944 and was the largest battle the Americans fought in the war – 600,000 U.S. troops were involved. “I think we learned the most there of any battle we have been in,” he said. “We were out of bullets, food and everything but we were not out of morale. We were surrounded on all sides but held our ground.
“My favorite part was when Gen. Anthony Clement McAuliffe (who commanded the 101st Airborne Division in the battle) was asked to surrender by the Germans. He sent back a note with one word: ‘Nuts.’ ”
Â World peace is a pipe dream. “I hate to say it, but there is never going to be complete peace in the world,” Cole said. “The way I look at it, the world is like high school. You have the superpowers – who are like the popular kids – and everyone else. Everyone else starts to pick sides and that’s when conflict starts.”
Cole also gathered seven letters of recommendation for the battalion commander job, including a few from his peers.
Cole’s lacrosse coach Dan Lannon said he was not surprised to learn that one of his star players will lead the JROTC next year.
“He’s a leader on our team,” Lannon said. “A big leader. He comes to practice and goes 100 percent all of the time. He’s is a faceoff specialist, which is the dirtiest position in the game, and he always gets right into it. He also is a very likable kid. He’s very personable.”
Stoltz noted that it is a “huge sacrifice” for any Desert Vista student to make the 40-minute round-trip drive or bus ride to Marcos for predawn ROTC practice. Only 13 make the daily trip, Cole said.
Cole has gotten up before 5 a.m. to get to ROTC drills or rifle practice five days a week since his freshman year.
“On a typical day I get up at 4:45 and am at rifle practice by 5:45,” Cole said. “The school day ends just before 3 and I get to lacrosse practice by 3:45. Sometimes I can get home and take a nap before going back for a game at night.”
He said he also swims in his backyard pool and runs when he can find spare time.
“I don’t go to parties or any of that stuff,” Cole said. “Nothing good comes out of it. And now that I am a battalion commander, I don’t want to lose my job.”
Cole said his interest in all things military was sparked in the fifth grade, when he was given a copy of a book called “A Greater Freedom: Stories of Faith from Operation Iraqi Freedom,” by Oliver North and Sara Horn. The same year, he did a school project about the nuclear-armed bomber that his grandfather, Scottsdale resident Dalton Cole, flew during the Korean War.
“Nate has always been a good student of history and has had a strong love of country,” said his father Doug Cole, a lobbyist and chairman of the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee. “Ask him about World War II and he can tell you about it.”
Cole’s dream is to study history at the U.S. Naval Academy, then enter the Marine Corps.
Cole and his teachers acknowledge that getting into the Naval Academy is a tough challenge even for those with top grades, so Cole is setting aside time this summer to do research for the essays he will write for his application and find a congressman to nominate him. “We couldn’t be prouder of him,” Heather Cole said.