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08-14-09, 05:39 AM
Cherry Point CO headed to MCI East
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August 13, 2009 11:01 AM

HAVELOCK — Change is just part of life in the Marine Corps, and Col. Frank P. Bottorff has certainly seen his share as base commander at Cherry Point.

He has overseen the arrival of two new helicopter squadrons, construction and renovation projects and the redesign of the base headquarters building after a 2007 fire.

Change continues when Bottorff relinquishes command of the base to Col. Douglas A. Denn during a ceremony today at Cherry Point.

“When I got here, obviously one of the first things to do is to take a look around and figure out where you are and where you want to go,” said Bottorff, who took command in July of 2006. “You come up with a plan, and then you also at some point have to react.”

Base reaction was tested when the headquarters building burned in 2007. Plans were made to move Marines to other buildings, and by the next morning they were working and keeping the base running without missing a beat, Bottorff said.

One of his last official acts as base commander was at a groundbreaking ceremony last month for a new headquarters building.

Now Bottorff’s planning skills will come in handy at Camp Lejeune, where he will work in planning, strategy and government external relations for Marine Corps Installations East beginning Sept. 1, said 1st Lt. Nicole Teat.

Bottorff said one of his main goals as commander at Cherry Point was to improve the quality of life for Marines, sailors and their families aboard the base. To that end, the base Exchange was renovated as well as Cunningham’s, home to the single Marine program.

The Cunningham’s renovation not only included work inside the building, but also the addition of an outdoor recreation area that includes a skate park, picnic area, beach volleyball court, and soon, a paintball facility.

The base has grown by about 1,000 Marines since Bottorff arrived, including two new helicopter squadrons, associated with the military’s Grow the Force initiative to increase the number of Marines serving the country.

While making sure personnel have what they need to train, Bottorff said he also understands the ramifications of the increases beyond the gates.

“Whenever we have growth in an area, it’s good for the Marine Corps around here, but it’s also good for the community,” he said. “I think we’ve had a great relationship planning to make sure the changes are seamless and as beneficial as possible.”

Bottorff, who has been stationed at Cherry Point four times in his military career, said the relationship between the base and Havelock area is tough to top.

“There’s no doubt that we are very, very lucky in this area, because I think we have as good or better of a relationship between the military and civilian community as anywhere I’ve ever seen in the military,” he said. “Talking to all the other commanders at different stations throughout the world, I think that’s a fact. This is about as good as it gets.”

With a supportive community and two growing children at home, Bottorff has decided to stay in the Havelock area and commute to his new job at Camp Lejeune.

“We enjoy this community. We are part of this community. We don’t just live here. We’re part of this community,” he said. “So when I looked for a place to work, I wanted to stay locally so my family and my children could remain right here without any interruption. So, I volunteered to go to Lejeune. I am going to do the commute. Although I will be working down there, my family will stay right here.”

The long drive is nothing compared to what Marines do on a daily basis.

“We ask a lot of our Marines, not only of the deployments that they do, but when they’re here, the working hours that most of our Marines put in are incredible,” he said. “They personally sacrifice. Their families sacrifice. Yet, every Marine is so committed that they do it without complaining and do amazing work.

“That’s what keeps us young and motivates us because you see the dedication of these young Americans every day; and I tell you, it makes you so proud to be part of the organization. They are the unsung heroes every day.”