James Cole Jr. followed in his father's footsteps to become a doctor and later traded in the high-tech operating rooms for tours of duty with a Marine Corps reconnaissance unit, the U.S. Special Operations Command and a Navy Reserve Seal team with assignments in 14 countries. He is now on another temporary leave of absence as assistant medical director of trauma at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove to serve again in Afghanistan.
"I'm very proud and grateful and honored to serve," Cole said. "But it has been a lot of hardship for my family and for my co-workers. They've been very gracious by filling in during my absences. I'm just very grateful."
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Cole traces his career back to when he accompanied his father James Cole Sr., a physician, as he conducted home visits with patients around the suburbs. His mother, Ann Cole, was a nurse. His parents continue to live in Mount Prospect.
During his younger years, Cole Jr. learned how to do first aid for certain injuries, how to deliver a baby and attend to other medical matters from his parents.
"I just found it all very fascinating," he said.
While earning a bachelor's degree in science and pre-med at Notre Dame and his doctor of medicine at Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, he worked in the ER at Northwest Community Hospital. He took blood pressures, bandaged wounds and assisted doctors.
"They knew I was interested and I really loved it," he said. "They were teaching me what I wanted to know about."
He then sought a military scholarship. His father had been in the Navy during the Korean conflict and Cole Jr. followed in the Navy with a scholarship. He was an ensign and reservist and spent time at a military hospital. After he graduated, he went on active duty and served as a surgical intern in Virginia. Since the Navy provides health care to the Marines, he was assigned to a Marine reconnaissance unit in California. He became a paratrooper and a diver, all while working as a doctor.
"I was always with the Navy, but when I was assigned to the Marines, I wore the Marine uniform," he said.
He then went overseas on several missions to Honduras and Guatemala. He applied to be a general surgeon and was assigned to the Army, serving in Texas.
He was recruited for the Joint Special Operations Command and split his time between forts in North Carolina and Louisiana and serving on missions, he said, that didn't make the newspapers.
To date, he has served on missions in 14 countries, including in the Middle East, Africa and Central America.
But by 2000, when the armed forces were being reduced, he had satisfied his obligations and decided to retire. That didn't last long. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, drew him back.
"They needed a trauma surgeon and I felt compelled to go back," Cole said.
That's when he was assigned to a Navy Reserve Seal Team and went to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He served on the ground and in helicopters, he said.
While he returned to Good Samaritan Hospital for a while, he left again in 2007 to serve in Iraq, this time assigned to the Marines. He set up his medical tent, 15 by 18 feet. He lived inside a two-man tent measuring 7-feet by 3 feet, he said.
"We didn't shower much and drank from canteens and lived in the field," he said.
By 2008, he returned home again. But that hasn't lasted either.
At age 48, he left last week for another assignment with the Marines. He started at the Great Lakes, flew to North Carolina for training and then to California for meetings. He said his mission this time is to return to Afghanistan.
His goal now is to help the Afghan government transition its health care from the United States and United Nations. He hopes to be there roughly 6 months and then return to Good Samaritan again. This time, his wife and children have remained in DeKalb County, instead of moving from state to state, he said.
"I'm an old guy by military standards now, but I haven't taken a paternalistic view of the young kids now who are serving," Cole said. "I'm really proud of them, as if I'm worrying about my own children."
Realtor gets national award
Paul Martis of Aurora and a broker with Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT in Oak Brook received the 2013 National Commercial Award from the National Association of Realtors. The award recognizes real estate professionals in the commercial real estate industry. Martis was one of 59 brokers honored nationally, and one of two recipients in Illinois. Martis also received the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors' 2013 chairman of the year award for his work with More's Commercial Investment Committee. As a 15-year veteran of real estate, Martis works with both buyers and sellers and evaluates multifamily, strip centers and land acquisitions.
Aims for crowd funding
Joe Scianna, of Island Lake, launched a fundraising effort via Peerbackers.com to raise about $4,000 so help him establish a home studio to make stained glass and to help teach students. He has previously displayed his work at craft shows and has taught at the Hobby Lobby that was in Mundelein and at Mundelein High School's adult continuing education program, he said.
Scott Dalrymple, dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Excelsior College in Albany, N.Y. and Randall W. Hanna, chancellor of the Florida College System, Tallahassee, Fla. are the finalists for president of Columbia College of Missouri, which has campuses in Gurnee, Elgin, Crystal Lake and Freeport. ... Nathan Clark, owner of Clark Family Chiropractic at 1475 N. Dilley's Road, Suite 2, Gurnee, said he's an aficionado of the Five Essentials of Maximized Living and offers free wellness workshops at 6 p.m. Thursdays at his office. He also sponsors health talks on various topics with the next entitled "Live Well" at 6 p.m. on Jan. 8 at Confetti's, 5101 Washington St., Gurnee.
Steve Andrews of Pace, Donna Bartoli of BMO Harris Bank, Matt Gennuso of Gennuso Financial Group, Steve Schmit of First Midwest Bank, and Jon Zaley of Odeum Expo Center have joined the board of directors for The GOA Regional Business Association in Itasca. Attorney Charles A. Krugel is chairman. ... Noel S. Liston, principal at Darwin Realty & Development Corp. in Elmhurst, represented DCT Industrial in its purchase of a six-building industrial portfolio in the Fox River Business Center in Elgin.
Jonathan Howard is the new manager of Tax Services at Weltman Bernfield LLC in Buffalo Grove. ... James. J. Saul of Evanston is one of 15 lawyers who became partners at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP in its Chicago office.
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