Brainerd’s McCollough honored for Marine Corps career

Col. William McCollough was recently recognized in the U.S. House of Representatives for his 30-years of service to the nation as a Marine Corps officer.

Col. William McCollough

Col. William McCollough, a Brainerd native, was recently recognized in the U.S. House of Representatives for his 30-years of service to the nation as a Marine Corps officer.

McCollough was commissioned in 1991 after graduating summa cum laude from Norwich University and was nominated for a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

Congressman Dr. Gregory Murphy of North Carolina recognized McCollough and his family for faithful service.

“The theme of his distinguished career has been one of achievement with highest honors throughout his three decades of unconditional service to the United States of America,” Murphy said as he spoke before the House as recorded in the Congressional Record. “Every military school he attended, he distinguished himself by graduating with honors — an absolutely tremendous achievement. He attained these high honors at the Basic Officers’ Course, the Amphibious Warfare School and the Marine Corps War College. His deployments have been more numerous than most Marines. As a young officer, he was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines where he deployed twice to Okinawa. In 1995, he was assigned to the elite Fleet Anti-Terrorist Security Team Company where he was involved in human trafficking interdiction operations working with the United States Coast Guard. One operation led him and his Marines to interdict a foreign freighter in the Atlantic that was carrying Chinese slave laborers.”

The slave laborers were freed, their kidnappers were captured and brought to justice.


McCollough also served in several combat deployments — two to Iraq in 2006 and 2008 and two to Afghanistan in 2009 and 2013-14, and one to Iraq, Jordan and Kuwait and other undisclosed locations. In 2009, he led the unit in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom where his battalion seized the Nawa District of Helmand Province during Operation Kanjari.

In 2002, McCollough was selected for the highly prestigious Marine Corps Congressional Fellowship.

“This selection entailed working in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress for a year in a congressional office. The competition for this program is very keen. Once again, he excelled, which led him to his current assignment as Director of the Marine liaison office to the House of Representatives. In 2006, then Major McCollough deployed to Iraq as a Military Transition Team leader,” Murphy said. “He and his team worked advising an Iraqi military unit. During one engagement, his unit came under fire from 122mm mortars where he sustained wounds and was awarded a Purple Heart. Colonel McCollough has received a Legion of Merit with a ‘V’ device for valor or heroism in combat. He was awarded when he was the Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion, 5th Marines for the battle to seize the Nawa district in Afghanistan from the Taliban. Colonel McCollough also has received the Bronze Star with a ‘V’ device for leading the advisor element with an Iraqi Army unit in 2006.”

Murphy noted McCollough served on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon, where his vast experiences in Middle East operations were used to help formulate future plans in the region. He was additionally deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in 2015 and 2016.

McCollough received combat action ribbons in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“His final tour in the Marine Corps is with us once again in the hallowed halls of Congress. During his tenure as the Director of the House Marine Liaison Office, Colonel McCollough has led the Marine Corps’ efforts to modernize the Marine Corps and prepare our Corps for future wars. His duties have taken him to six continents and multiple countries supporting both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Marine Corps.”

McCollough retired June 1, 2021.

The Congressional Record also recognized McCollough’s family — his wife Caroline and sons Jack and Hunter, noting they lived through 10 moves and extended absences of husband and father during deployments.


“Their courage and determination are noteworthy,” Murphy stated.

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