Brooklyn native Maj. Geoffrey Cole’s military service has taken him thousands of miles from home and may keep him away permanently, but he still has a place in his heart for the borough landmarks he loved as a kid.
Cole served on an army transition team with the new police forces in Iraq in 2006 and 2007, and on the Joint Forces staff in Qatar in 2011 and early 2012, a long way away from his favorite childhood hangout: Central Library at Grand Army Plaza.
“That library had everything if you had an inquiring mind, anything you wanted to learn about,” recalled Cole, who grew up in Park Slope in the 1970s and ’80s.
Cole attended Xavier High School in Manhattan, where he first got involved with the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, which started him on the road to West Point, the military, and the Middle East.
“The focus on doing something better, doing something greater than myself, for the nation, really inspired me,” he said.
His family relocated to El Paso, Texas — because of the “cost of living,” Cole explained — shortly after he left home in 1995, and he didn’t return to Brooklyn until 2007, when he was stationed at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey. Cole took it as an opportunity to let his young son share in some of his Brooklyn experiences by bringing him to Prospect Park.
“Most kids grow up in towns where the park is a block large. Prospect Park is huge, and it’s a tremendous place to hang out and play baseball. I’m envious now of those kids growing up there and playing in the park,” said Cole.
Cole will soon be an executive officer at Fort Bliss in Texas, and he plans to spend the rest of his career in the military — which could make another homecoming unlikely. Cole said the parting is hard for him.
“It saddens me. I miss the New York–New Jersey Metropolitan region a lot. Unfortunately, there are less bases in the Northeast region,” he said.
Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.