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February 6, 2013

McAlester Alum completes deployment onboard USS Cole

McALESTER — McAlester High School alumnus and U.S.S. Cole Commanding Officer Cmdr. Peter “Pete” K. Nilsen recently finished a nine-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea.

He commanded the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole to Naval Station Norfolk on Jan. 26.

Nilsen said he was glad to be coming home after nine months at sea.

“It’s surreal,” Nelson said on Jan. 25,  while still onboard the Cole.

He said while he and his crew were away they knew they missed out on many special events.

“We missed a lot of holidays, graduations, new babies ... everything,” Nilsen said.

“We are all excited to be coming home.”

Nilsen said while at sea he and his crew were very busy.

“We were (on-duty) 24-hours protecting U.S. assets and European allies in the Mediterranean.”

He also said they didn’t see many ports.

“We had maybe seven or eight port visits in nine months,” he said.

The next big event for Nilsen will be his Change of Command event on July 26, according to his wife Teresa Nilsen.

“It will be an event to celebrate with friends and family on the success of his entire tour and of him giving up command of the USS Cole to his current (Executive Officer) who also did the deployment with him and move on to his next Command/Duty Station.”

Meanwhile Cmdr. Nilsen said he was thankful for all the support he and his crew received from friends and family in McAlester.

“It was amazing the amount of support we received from people in the McAlester area and the interest they had in our crew and what the Cole was doing,” he said.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

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