WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) released the following statement, in regard to the news that Matthew A. Cox, 19, an Iowa National Guardsman died while swimming at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay beach this week:

“The passing of Private First Class Guardsman Matthew Cox is a tragedy.  It breaks my heart to hear that a fellow Iowan and Guardsman lost his life at such a young age.  His service to our nation, including his enlistment in the Iowa Army National Guard and deployment in Cuba, will not be forgotten by me, or the people of Iowa.   Pfc. Cox paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving his country, and may God bring his family and friends peace as they grieve his loss.”


The Iowa National Guard announced the death of Pfc. Matthew A. Cox on October 18th, 2018, following a search and rescue mission after Pfc. Cox was lost in a strong current at Cable Beach while swimming at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (NSGB) beach on Tuesday, October 16.  

Pfc. Cox was born in Des Moines, Iowa. The Iowa Army and National Guard explained, “Cox was active in the Civil Air Patrol, Des Moines Police Explorers and enjoyed farming with his grandparents, Fred and Linda Cox, near Leon, Iowa.  He was a member of the 1st Baptist Church in Urbandale, where he was involved in the children's ministries. Cox enlisted in the Iowa Army National Guard on October 11, 2017 as a Military Police Soldier with the 186th MP Co. He attended Military Police One Station Unit Training and graduated on June 7, 2018.  He deployed to Cuba in July, 2018.  His awards include the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.”

Senator Ernst retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 23 years in the Army Reserve and the Iowa Army National Guard.  She served as a former company commander and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  During her military service, Senator Ernst Commanded the 185th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, based out of Johnston, Iowa and served as the Support Operations Officer in the Battalion Headquarters for the 248th Aviation Support Battalion.