J. Richard Cottingham is a 1966 Civil Engineering graduate. While serving with the Navy Seabees in Viet Nam, his Company Commander was killed in action, and LTJG Cottingham was promoted to Company Commander of Delta Company of the 121st Seabees. Delta Company provided combat construction support to the 1st Marine Division including roads, bridges, helicopter pads, airfields, utilities, hospitals, and personnel support facilities, and was under constant threat from enemy forces and often in direct combat. During the Communist Tet Offensive of early 1968, the period of the most intense fighting of the war, he and Delta Company, under relentless enemy harassment, operated around the clock to reconstruct bridges in order for US forces to enter and recapture the provincial capital city of Hue and relieve pressure on the beleaguered free world forces.
He earned numerous decorations for his leadership, courage, and dedication. He and his Seabees were awarded the Navy Unit Commendation, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Combat Action Ribbon, and two Presidential Unit Citations for “extraordinary heroism.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, our Hero of the Game and the epitome of the Seabee motto “We Build, We Fight”: CAPT J. Richard Cottingham
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CAPT John Richard Cottingham, CEC, USN (ret.), P.E., P.L.S., is a retired naval officer, successful civil engineer, licensed general contractor, and serial entrepreneur. He was born in Lumberton, NC to John C. and Elizabeth Cottingham. Raised in Dillon, SC, Richard attended Clemson University and received his BS in Civil Engineering in 1966, and MS in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1973. He is also a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and the NAVFAC Executive Institute. Captain Cottingham was honored as the military hero of the Georgia Tech vs football game, August 29th.
After graduation from Clemson, Richard served two tours in Vietnam with the Navy Seabees and served in numerous assignments in the U.S. and overseas with awards and recognition for combat action and meritorious service. He retired as a Captain from the Navy Civil Engineer Corps in 1988, to serve as Regional Manager and Executive Vice President of Law Engineering, a national consulting engineering firm, and was later elected by the shareholders to the Law Engineering Board of Directors. He later founded and served as President of Titan Atlantic Group, an employee-owned firm offering engineering, surveying, and construction. Titan employed 125 and had offices in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greenville, NC. The company was acquired in 2002 by Terracon Inc., one of the largest engineering companies in the United States.
Richard is a long-time supporter of Clemson University and in 1998 received the Alumni Association’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Award. He has served on Clemson University’s Alumni National Council, the Foundation Board, and as IPTAY Regional Chairman for central and eastern NC. He was President of the Triangle Clemson Club and past member of the President’s Club. Richard also served as a Director of the Finance Corporation for Clemson’s Conference Center Complex. He is an honorary member of the national civil engineering honor society Chi Epsilon, and was a Charter member of the Walker Course at Clemson. Richard is an IPTAY Life Endowment donor and has been a proud member of IPTAY for over 50 years. In 2015, he and his wife, Nancy, established the J. Richard and Nancy W. Cottingham Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering Endowment. He regularly serves as a guest lecturer for CE and ME seniors and juniors.
Other honors include being named a “Fellow” by the Professional Engineers of NC (PENC), the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), and the American Consulting Engineers Council (ACEC). He served as President of the Consulting Engineers Council of North Carolina, and won seven state-wide Engineering Excellence Awards for projects over a 10-year period. In 1996, he was selected as PENC’s “Engineer of the Year” for the state of North Carolina. He served as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) for six years, and was named national President in 2000. Richard received the NCEES Distinguished Service Award in 2003 and their DSA with Special Commendation in 2014. He has also served as a Director on the Oconee Medical Center Foundation Board. Richard sits on the Civil Engineering Advisory Board and the SCDOT County Transportation Committee. He became an Eagle Scout in 1959.
Richard’s retirement has been as busy as his professional career. One of his biggest accomplishments was the planning, permitting, design, and construction of the highly successful Lighthouse Restaurant on Lake Keowee. He is now an engineering consultant and has served as a construction arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association.
Richard and his wife of 50+ years, Nancy, recently have named the Hospice of the Foothills House “The Cottingham House”, and are the proud parents of two children: Andy, a graduate of Clemson, and Carrie a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke Law, currently working as Assistant General Counsel at Clemson University.