Philly native follows grandfathers' legacies
II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
Story by Cpl. Evan M. Eagan

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Oct. 3, 2005) -- From behind the scenes, cooped up in a small office that looks more like a large walk-in closet, one Marine stationed here provides a vital service the II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) command element could not do without.

As the information assurance technician, Cpl. Richard Coogan, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Headquarters Group, II MEF (FWD), is responsible for monitoring all Web traffic and firewalls, anti-virus updates and managing the software update server.

Manning his post means the security of the Multi-National Force–West network remains stable and communication across the network continues.

Today, Coogan enjoys what he does. He takes pride in serving his country, and following a family tradition by being a Marine. However, before joining the Corps, he didn’t feel like he was getting to where he wanted to go.

“I got bored,” said the Philadelphia native. “Doing the nine-to-five thing wasn’t for me at that point. I wanted to do something that was more of a challenge. I walked into the recruiter’s office one day and I knew I was going to do it.”

Having completed an associate’s degree in liberal arts at Montgomery County Community College in 2001 and attending one semester at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, Coogan began working full time at a grocery store in Trappe, Pa., as a cashier and eventually manager of the food service department.

Both of his grandfathers served in the Corps. One is a veteran of World War II and witnessed the flag raising at Iwo Jima, while the other is a veteran of the Korean War. There was no doubt in his mind which service he would join.

“I couldn’t have joined any other service,” he said. “Both of my grandfathers were in the Marines. They would never let me live it down.”

Coogan went to boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., in 2002 and attended military occupational specialty school at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., before attaching to II MHG in 2003.

Because many civilian jobs are becoming centered around computer technology, Coogan said he chose to become a data systems specialist in order to prepare for the future.

During his first deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he has found time to train in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. He recently earned a green belt and is now working toward a brown belt – the fourth belt in the program.

“I will have my brown belt in about two weeks,” he said. “It’s all about getting out there and doing the training. It’s going to hurt, but it’s rewarding in the end.”

As he nears his three year mark in November, Coogan contemplates what the future may bring.

“I’m really thinking about reenlisting,” he said. “It’s a tough choice between going out and making money on the outside and staying in. I love being a Marine and I love what I do.”