Photo Information

First Lt. Michael Cooley, a platoon commander serving with Mobility Assault Company, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, searches for footprints and other evidence showing recent human movement through the area during a combat tracking course offered by Tactical Tracking Operations School here, May 16, 2013. Cooley, a native of Algonquin, Ill., is an Eagle Scout and has been involved with Scouting for nearly 20 years. While 1st CEB is training to deploy to Afghanistan during the fall, Cooley devotes much of his free time to Scouting. Growing up, Cooley's father was his den leader, now Cooley is a den leader for his son, Isaac.

Photo by Cpl. Joseph Scanlan

Marine officer leads with values learned through Scouts

30 May 2013 | Cpl. Joseph Scanlan 1st Marine Division

From core values to outdoor skills, Boy Scouts and Marines have much in common.

A platoon commander serving with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion uses the Boy Scout values and skills he was raised by to lead Marines today.

Growing up as a Scout, 1st Lt. Michael Cooley was taught the values of good conduct, respect and honesty. As the years went on, he learned lifelong lessons in outdoor skills, first aid, proper manners and citizenship skills.

Cooley started Scouting when he was in kindergarten. Unlike many of his peers, he chose to continue Scouting and became an Eagle Scout when he was in high school. Even when he was in college, he volunteered at a local troop as an assistant scoutmaster.

“The things I like most about the scouts is being outdoors,” said Cooley, a native of Algonquin, Ill. “I enjoy hiking, camping, fishing and shooting weapons. Also, we take the core values we learn growing up as a Scout and take them with us into the community and into the Marine Corps.” 

Before he joined the Corps, Cooley felt a void after being involved with Scouts for so long. After he enlisted, he felt he had filled that void by becoming part of a brotherhood and something greater than himself.

“I come from a long line of family in the military from World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam,” Cooley said. “The transition of going from high school to the Marine Corps was kind of easy for me because I grew up with a structured life.”

After serving as an enlisted Marine since 2000, Cooley felt the need to lead at a different capacity and commissioned as a second lieutenant during 2010.

Now his son is a Cub Scout, and Cooley is involved in the Scouting community again as a den leader for his son.

“What he does is very honorable,” said Maj. Paul Bock, the former operations officer for 1st CEB. “He doesn’t have much free time because he’s always working with his Marines to prepare for this upcoming deployment.”

Like being a platoon commander, Cooley keeps accountability of his Scouts, develops plans to keep his Scouts engaged in recreational activities and gives classes on various outdoor skills. 

“He’s with the Scouts every week and is very involved in what they do,” said Bock, a native of Francestown, N.H. “I respect and appreciate what he does because I know it is an extensive commitment and requires a lot of time and dedication to do.”

Leadership is one of the many skills taught to Scouts. Cooley has led Marines both as an enlisted Marine and as a commissioned officer for 13 years.
“I really enjoy setting the example and leading Marines,” Cooley said. “I love being able to watch boys become men in the Marine Corps and watch children grow into men in Cub Scouts. I find complete happiness and enjoyment in mentoring and being there for people.”

Despite an extensive predeployment training schedule, Cooley plans to continue being a den leader for his son until he deploys with 1st CEB to Afghanistan during the fall.

1st Marine Division