In this recurring special feature, Nonahood News recognizes and honors those everyday heroes who have served or are currently serving our country and making a difference in our community. Those who reside in the Lake Nona and surrounding area are our Nona Heroes.
This month’s hero is currently serving and has been for over 25 years. Meet Michele Cooke.
“[At] 17, I joined a local unit while in high school. I received a scholarship to Georgia Military College, where I completed my Associate’s and earned my commission as an army officer. My family was strong in military service: Navy, Marines, Air Force and Army. I decided to follow their legacy. I’m the only daughter that has joined the military.”
Cooke has lived in the Lake Nona area for less than a year and has been based all around: Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and North Carolina. She’s in Army logistics and started off as a transportation officer for a waterborne unit in Tampa. Cooke is now a Lieutenant Colonel and has been for over 20 years.
“Every officer rank and promotion [is] based upon a structure, meaning there are three zones – below the zone, in the zone or after the zone. Most promotions to make the next rank [are] five years, depending on reserve or active duty the pace is faster. For a typical reservist, below the zone means you can be promoted a year prior to the actual zone – if the next zone is 2019, and you have met all the requirements, then you can submit your packet for promotion to the next rank. Thankfully, I’ve been a below the zone, aka ‘BZ,’ for each zone.”
What is LTC Cooke up to nowadays?
“I’m the Mobilization Branch Chief for over 9,500 soldiers and over 85 units in eight states. My team and I prepare the units’ readiness and all mobilization requirements prior to leaving their home base and reporting to the mobilization station. We also provide assistance to the units returning from deployment.”
Some of the best memories Cooke has had are while she’s in command. “I love leading troops! Also, every deployment is memorable for the cohesion and experience. I’ve been deployed four times – 48 months in total on foreign soil.”
The military is not just a job, it’s an adventure. I knew this was what I wanted to do when I was a teenager. I’m living the dream, taking care of soldiers, preparing them professionally and personally for their next chapter and always being there for my soldiers.”
If you would like to nominate someone for our next Nona Heroes feature, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the form here: