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LCO AmVets Honor Vet of the Year Kathy O'Cull at Veteran's Day Powwow

The LCO AmVets Post 1998 honored retired U.S. Navy veteran Kathleen O'Cull as Veteran of the Year at the Veteran's Powwow at the LCO Ojibwe School on Nov. 11.


The following is the biography of O'Cull, recited by Valerie Barber, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and member of Post 1998, at the powwow.


Kathleen grew up in Northlake, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. She is the daughter of Robert and Helen O’Brien, and has one brother, Robert Jr., and one sister, Diane Rose.


As a child, she made frequent trips to the Hayward area. She like fishing, exploring the woods and drawing the animals and trees she saw there. She wanted to be a scientist, to explore the unknown and see new things.


Kathleen is married to Thomas O’Cull and has one son, Thomas Jr.


In 1984, Kathleen enlisted in the Naval Reserve with her 18-year-old son, Thomas. They both wanted to be part of the Pacific fleet, but the Navy put a little distance between them. Thomas was attached to the Navy command at Adak, Alaska, and Kathleen was attached to commands at Midway Island and Hawaii, which included duty at NAS New Orleans, Hickam Air Force Base and Barber’s Point, Hawaii.


In 1990, she was part of the staging for Desert Shield/Desert Storm at Midway Island and was required to inventory and upscale everything on the island to prepare to support more than 5,000 incoming personnel and their associated equipment. She also qualified for, and was issued, a harbor pilot’s license at this time.


In 1991, she was assigned to the port mortuary and personal effects departments at Dover, Delaware and Fort Dix, New Jersey. She worked there with the pathology personnel, identifying the remains of service members killed in action, and, sadly, writing the letters notifying the families.


She also volunteered with the Red Cross and as a member of a first Response team, administering medical care to wounded who were flown directly from Saudi Arabia to McGuire Naval Hospital.


She was transferred later in the year to NAS Charleston, North Carolina, and assigned to the Naval Liaison Office, which was bringing service members and their equipment back from Saudi and Kuwait. This office also formally greets returning service members and assists with their families’ needs.


In August of 1991, Kathleen returned to her unit, NAF Midway Island, and sereved as training and supply chief.


From there, she went to NAF Glenview, Illinois, where she was awarded the Sailor of the Year in 1992.


In 1993, she was advanced to chief petty officer and affiliated to NR SPAWAR HQ, a satellite and undersea surveillance command, where she was assigned as the command chief, and served at duty stations in England, Wales and Scotland, as well as NAS Damneck, South Carolina, Norfolk, Virginia, and NOPF San Diego, California.


In 1996, Kathleen was deployed to NOPF NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, where she supervised the decommissioning of NAF Adak, Alaska, and the transfer of all members back to Whidbey Island.


In 1997, Kathleen was selected to serve on the REDCOM 13 Admirals Staff, covering the area from Wisconsin to New Orleans. She was assigned as an analyst chief working with Reserve Centers within REDCOM 13 Command.


From there, in 1998 Kathleen became affiliated with a newly formed unit, the NR NAVSTA Rota, Spain, as the command chief.


In April of 1999, she advanced to senior chief and served as the acting operations officer, setting up training, berthing and transportation for Rota, Spain.


Senior Chief O’Cull continued to serve as maintenance officer for three Air Support Divisions: the 128th Air Refueling Wing of the Wisconsin National Guard, the 434th Maintenance Detachment of the Indiana National Guard, and the 139th Logistics Detachment of the Missouri Air National Guard, until her retirement in December of 2005.


Her decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, five awards of the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Reserve Good Conduct Medal, the Overseas Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Rifle and Pistol Expert Ribbons and the Humanitarian Acts Medal; as well as letters of commendation from the admiral’s staff, the Air Force and Navy National Guard and the Red Cross.


Kathleen also worked for Alberto-Culver for 30 years, developing and testing skin and hair care products. She was awarded 14 patents for new products.


Senior Chief O’Cull currently lives in Hayward with her husband, Thomas, and their three furbaby dogs, Buddy, Rico and Reggie. She is an active volunteer with the Northwoods Humane Society, takes many Native arts classes with LCO College Extension and continues to serve her community with grace and love.


Pictured L-R) are Vern Martin, Sarah St. Germaine, Kathleen O'Cull and Gary Quaderer. O'Cull is honored by the LCO AmVets Post 1998 as Veteran of the Year. Photo by Terrell Boetcher, Sawyer County Record.