Flying the CCU flag in unfriendly terrainby Mona Prufer
Rusty Cotterman is a Coastal Carolina University alumnus ('02) who is currently serving on a Green Beret team of the U.S. Army in Iraq. It's his fourth trip to the war zone.
An operator on a special forces operational detachment-alpha (ODA), Cotterman somehow finds the time – and humor – to pull out and fly the CCU flag on his tank, posing with his fellow soldiers.
“I'm out on the AF/PAK border and figured these Haqqani punks that I continually roll up needed to know I'm serious,” Cotterman writes in an email. “These are a couple pictures from some combat reconnaissance patrols with my ODA proudly flying my Coastal flag.”
The CCU flag, Cotterman explains, “is actually going to be a gift to Dr. Bob [Bob Squatriglia, former vice president of student affairs at CCU] and the veterans association for what they've created and the support they've given [us].”
According to Wikipedia, the Haqqani network is an Islamist insurgent group using asymmetric warfare to fight against US-led NATO forces and the government of Afghanistan.The Haqqani network is allied with the Taliban.
Cotterman graduated from CCU in 2002, double majoring in marketing and finance. In 2004, in an effort to support the war, he enlisted in the army and went straight into a wartime special forces program.
A week before Christmas, he wrote: “Seeing that we are a small 12-man element and nearly as close to one another as we are our own families, we will make Christmas as special as we can over here and attempting to scrounge some materials for a large Christmas meal. At this point in the war, we're not living too bad so we'll make it a good time.”
Cotterman is originally from Sumter and now lives in Southern Pines near Fort Bragg. He is looking forward to going home in early April a couple of weeks before the birth of his first child, a daughter.
In fall 2011, while in Ranger School, Rusty met Keith Nevins. About a month later, they came to the realization they were both Chants. Nevins graduated from CCU in 2010 with a degree in exercise and sport science. The two fellow alumni graduated from Ranger School together in October 2011, “making us,” he wrote, “what I assume are the only double Chant graduates from the brutal course (at least that was our motivation).”
In December he found still another Chanticleer fighting on the front lines – David Serrano.
“I recently had a new intelligence lieutenant assigned to help me hunt down insurgent leaders,” writes Cotterman of David Serrano ('04) and Wall Fellow from New York City. “So we felt it necessary for him to come get some ground truth from my team and hang out for a while. Small world, we've had a great time sharing stories about the good old days.”
All three alumni are members of the CCU Veterans Association, which is always recruiting new members.