CAMP SABALU-HARRISON, Afghanistan – In the town of Claxton, Ga., three foster children woke up every day to the smell of a warm breakfast and went to bed at night with full stomachs.
These three boys were taken into a family with a son who grew to love cooking for these boys. His love for cooking turned into a career as a food service specialist in the U.S. Army.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Aaron Cox, Task Force Vigilant food service adviser, is the big brother of these three foster children. Growing up his mother took in foster children but she also worked long hours to provide for these children.
Cox began to enjoy the art of cooking while preparing meals for his brothers.
“I like to eat, I don’t like being hungry and I don’t like people around me being hungry,” said Cox.
In January 1995, Cox enlisted in the U.S. Army as a food service specialist not realizing his love for food and serving others came straight from home.
In 2011 in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, Cox heard of a platoon out at a site that had not seen a hot meal in over four months. Cox knew he had to devise a plan to serve these troops. He had two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters fly out a hot meal.
“I stacked the Black Hawks with as much stuff as I could for these soldiers; we came out there with ice, steak, shrimp, Gatorade,” Cox explained. “This showed them that people actually cared about them and the job they do, I had a couple soldiers who came up to me and gave me hugs; they had not seen ice in three months.”
Cox, currently serving as the drop zone dining facility food service adviser for the soldiers here, provides daily meals to nearly 2,000 soldiers.
“Chief Cox is the epitome of selfless servant-leadership. His infectious and caring demeanor has permeated the entire dining facility staff, which is evident at every meal,” said Army Col. Zane Jones, Task Force Vigilant commander.
“I did my research, the 18th Military Police Brigade had not had a food adviser in 4 years and I wanted to come here and make a difference,”, Cox said.
Cox has always been determined to make an impact on soldiers and improve their quality of life.
“I try to keep a variety of different entrées because I know coming to the same place every day can get boring. I try to spice up the menu with the rations we have in-house,” he said.
Cox was flown to Camp Phoenix Aug. 7, 2013, to be recognized for his dedication to soldiers by Army Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., International Security Assistance Force commander.
“The most exciting thing about my job is making a direct and immediate impact on a soldier at least three times a day,” Cox said.
The soldiers at Camp Sabalu-Harrison are fortunate to receive a hot meal four times a day. Shift workers are afforded hot meals as well. There is not one request Cox has not been able to fulfill.
“His tremendous impact on every person at Camp Sabalu-Harrison is only exceeded by his humility. Chief Cox is a true American hero,” Jones said.