McALESTER — On Friday a large group of family, friends, crew, former shipmates and dignitaries gathered onboard the USS Cole in Norfolk Virginia to witness former McAlester High School graduate Commander Peter Nilsen receive his orders as Captain of the USS Cole.
Nilsen is the son of Harold (Corky) and Elizabeth Oliver of McAlester and the brother of Jennifer Green, also of McAlester. He lives in Chesapeake VA and is married to Teresa and has three children, Matthew, 27, Garth, 21 and Alison 17.
As the ceremony began eight side boys stood at attention on each side of the red carpet as Commander Nilsen walked up to the podium on the deck of the USS COLE. Nilsen and the officer he was relieving of duty, Commander Andrew C. Ehlers, read the official orders. “ I relieve you sir,” said Nilsen. “I stand relieved,” said Elhers. With that, the transfer of total responsibility, authority and accountability of the USS COLE and its crew was passed to Nilsen.
After the ceremony the boatswain mate blew the ceremonial whistle and Nilsen walked down the carpet as Captain of “The Determined Warrior” the USS Cole.
The McAlester News- Capital was also onboard the ship and was given the opportunity to tour the ship with him and his family.
His wife Teresa Nilsen a Navy veteran and registered nurse said the family has been busy the last few weeks.
“Our son (Garth) got married on Wednesday and we haven’t had time to take it all in, I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” she said.
Nilsen has reached the highest rank aboard the ship, but his first job wasn’t as prestigious.
“My first job was throwing papers for the McAlester News when I was a teenager and then I delivered flowers for Walter, Alan and Anne Mann at Mann’s flower shop. He said he also used to mow lawns for a few extra bucks.