SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Col. Albert Cox of Newark, Ill., retired from the Illinois Army National Guard July 31. He was awarded the Legion of Merit during his retirement ceremony at Camp Lincoln in Springfield on Aug. 4.
“Forty years of service. Not many people can say they served their country and served their state that long,” said Col. Michael Zerbonia of Chatham, Illinois National Guard Land Forces Component Commander. “He’s done everything that was ever asked of him and done it better than anyone else.”
Cox enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard Nov. 20, 1973, as a radio repairman with the 129th Infantry Regiment in Joliet, Ill. He achieved the rank of staff sergeant before he commissioned through the Illinois Army National Guard Officer Candidate School at Camp Lincoln in 1984.
Cox held many positions throughout his career to include platoon leader, executive officer and company commander with the 1st Battalion, 129th Infantry Regiment. He later moved to the 2nd Battalion, 202nd Air Defense Artillery, where he served as battalion commander.
“Colonel Cox taught me a lot of things that I use today in my arsenal as a battalion commander,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Reichen of Springfield, who is the 405th Brigade Support Battalion commander in North Riverside and served with Cox in the 2nd Battalion, 202nd Air Defense Artillery. “He is humble. He is quiet and he is a professional. He always pushes you to do the right thing.”
Cox deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005 as the senior liaison officer for Multi-National Force - Iraq at the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. In 2010, he commanded the International Security Assistance Force A6 team to Afghanistan in support of Task Force White Eagle of which he was the Task Force Deputy commander.
Cox culminated his career as the Director of the Illinois National Guard Training, Doctrine and Forces Development, where he prepared the National Guard to support the NATO Summit National Special Security Event (NSSE) by providing multiple pre-NSSE exercise opportunities for the consequence management forces and state leadership.
“The transformation of the Illinois Guard from 1973 to 2013 has been tremendous,” said Cox. “I don’t know how I could work with a better group of individuals and I appreciate the opportunity over the years.”
In his civilian career, Cox is in management for Caterpillar Inc. in Aurora, Ill. After his military retirement, Cox will continue working for Caterpillar, but said he will spend his extra time with family, fishing and working on an old car.
“What I respect most is his loyalty: to his family, to Caterpillar and to the Illinois Army National Guard,” said Reichen. “His legacy will live on with not only Illinois Army Guard Soldiers, but the many Soldiers he influenced across the country.”