Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Marine Sgt. Maj. Robert J. Cottle

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Sgt. Maj. Robert J. Cottle, 45, of Whittier, Calif.

Sgt Cottle was assigned to the 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 4thMarine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died March 24, 2010 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Also killed was Lance Cpl. Rick J. Centanni.LAPD vet killed in Afghanistan returns to Calif.

The Associated Press

LOS ALAMITOS — The body of a Los Angeles policeman who was killed while serving in Afghanistan has been returned to California.

Hundreds of Marines and police officers were on hand Monday as the flag-draped coffin of 45-year-old Robert J. Cottle was flown into the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base in Orange County.

Cottle was a 20-year LAPD veteran and a member of the SWAT team. A sergeant major in the Marine Reserve, Cottle served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and returned there last August.

The Yorba Linda resident and 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Rick Centanni, also of Yorba Linda, were killed by a roadside bomb last month.

Cottle leaves a wife and 9-month-old daughter.

Sgt. Major Robert J. Cottle, 45, was killed, said his father, Kenneth A. Cottle, 74, of Villa Park. "He was a warrior – that's what he liked to do," Cottle said. "Anything physical."
Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said he had known Cottle -- known as "R.J.'' to his friends -- for 20 years, and was "deeply saddened'' by his death.

"He is a fine man and a great example of the best LAPD has to offer,'' Beck said.

Friends and family were planning a homecoming party for Cottle when he was due home at the end of May. He reportedly is the first active LAPD officer to be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Cottle's wife, Emily, is a naval officer stationed in Hawaii with their daughter, Kaila Jane. Emily Cottle could not immediately be reached for comment. The longtime couple, whose home was in Yorba Linda, got married about a year ago.

Lanky, blue-eyed and brown-haired, Cottle "loved being a police officer," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.

Cottle became an officer in 1990 and joined the elite SWAT unit six years later, Beck said. He called Cottle "an effective and compassionate" officer and "a great human being."

He was "almost the absolute stereotype Marine," said LAPD Capt. Phil Tingirides. "He was one who talked about God and country and he really meant it."

Cottle grew up in Whittier and San Diego, said his sister Bonnie Roybal, 49, of Whittier. As a child, he was bowlegged and had to wear leg braces for more than two years, but he grew into an avid runner and athlete, she said.

Brett Rankin said... My Mom used to baby sit Robert and his sister Bonnie in Whittier, CA. He was a mischievous kid, but never bad. My Mom had told me quite a long time ago that he had settled down and grown up to be quite an admirable young man. She is probably welcoming him in heaven right now. My family's condolences to his family, especially his wife and young child, along with the brave and courageous people with whom he served on LAPD and the Corps.

"He was made fun of as a kid, and he ended up proving them wrong," Roybal said.

A high-energy teenager, his rambunctious exploits and unimpressive grades led him first to military-style camp, then to the Marines at age 18, and finally to the LAPD, she said.

"He didn't have any pretenses or airs. With Robert, what you saw was what you got," Roybal said.

That direct gaze and knack for effortless conversation were traits that served him well as a police officer. But he never lost the taste for adrenaline that first brought him to the LAPD.

"My brother has always lived his life on the edge. He was into risk-taking, wanted to live an extraordinary life" -- and did, his sister said.

As a youth, Robert Cottle split time between his divorced parents' homes in Whittier and in San Diego, never applying himself much to schoolwork, his father said. When a family friend suggested that he attend a summer camp in Texas run by former Marines, the then-15-year-old jumped at the idea. He liked the experience so much he was back for more the following summer, said his father.

After enlisting in the Marines at 18 and being sent on active duty to Africa, Germany and Hawaii, Robert Cottle decided, after seven years, that he wanted to become a police officer.

He stayed in the Marines as a reservist when he entered the LAPD academy in 1990. He became a member of the elite SWAT unit six years later and rose to become assistant team leader, his father said.

"This deeply saddens me, especially since I've known 'RJ' for over 20 years," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement. "He is a fine man and a great example of the best LAPD has to offer. He will be missed."

In November 2008, Cottle spoke at a Veterans Day Observance Program hosted by the city of Placentia. He presented Mayor Scot Nelson with an American flag that was flown during a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Marine Sgt. Maj. Robert J. Cottle was killed in action on 3/24/10.

No comments: