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Sgt. Maj. Douglas E. Power, the sergeant major of Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport, Calif., and Col. Norman L. Cooling, the commanding officer of MWTC, ride horses during the Independence Day parade in the nearby town of Bridgeport July 4. Both men were awarded for Best Horsemanship during the event.

Photo by Lance Cpl. M. C. Nerl

Mountain Marines and Bridgeport celebrate 233 years

10 Jul 2009 | Lance Cpl. M. C. Nerl

Marines from Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport, Calif., supported the nearby town of Bridgeport Saturday during the town’s celebration of Independence Day.

The coordination between the base and the local community has been a tradition since MWTC’s early days half a century ago and has had small changes this year, said Col. Norman L. Cooling, the commanding officer of MWTC, and a native of Baytown, Texas.

“The celebration has been there since the 1900s,” Cooling said. “The base has been supporting it since the 1950s. We’ve always added things to the parade like the color guard. The extra horsemen here have been a recent addition to the parade that I can’t remember in recent history.”

In addition to supplying a color guard and Marine instructors from the Animal Packers Course, MWTC also provided a BVS-10 Viking, a newer version of the all-terrain Hagglunds BV-206.

Cooling said he and the base sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Douglas E. Power, also contributed to the parade, not in there presence, but how they presented themselves.

“Sgt. Maj. Power and I were riding on horseback,” he said. “We had the regular mules in the parade as well, but the sergeant major and I won the award for best horsemanship in the parade.”

Cooling said the parade is a big deal to the town. They have taken a lot of pride in it since the event’s creation.

“It’s a huge marketable event for the town,” he said. “It’s one of their biggest events they have for the entire year. A small town like Bridgeport relies on tourism for part of the summer as part of what keeps them going.

“We’re proud to support such a big event for the people in town,” he said. “They’re our fellow mountain people.”

Residents of the small mountain town appreciate the support from MWTC not just in their celebrations, but in their everyday lives.

“I love seeing the Marines around every year,” said Doug Marian, a life-long Bridgeport resident. “We almost forget about you guys up there in the mountains. If I could thank all the guys and girls out there for keeping me and my family safe, I would go door to door if I had to.”

The events of the 147th Fourth of July celebration in Bridgeport slowly drew to a close with the knowledge that the Marines at MWTC will join the community again next year to celebrate the nation’s independence.

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