Soldier Deployed to Guantanamo Bay Dies While Swimming at Beach

Pfc. Matthew Cox, 19, died Oct. 16 while swimming. Cox was deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, at the time. (Army)
Pfc. Matthew Cox, 19, died Oct. 16 while swimming. Cox was deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, at the time. (Army)

The body of a 19-year-old Iowa Army National Guard member deployed to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay was found after a massive search-and-rescue operation Wednesday -- one day after he was seen being overpowered by a strong current in the waters off Cuba's southern tip.

Pfc. Matthew Cox had been swimming with four friends at Cable Beach on Tuesday when the water overwhelmed him, The Army Times reported. The four other service members were not injured, according to The Gazette, which cited a news release from the Iowa National Guard.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Joint Task Force-Guantanamo joined with other military elements in a frantic search for the soldier. Divers and aircraft were also utilized as part of the operation before Cox's body was recovered Wednesday afternoon. The soldier's death was announced the next day.

Cox was a member of the Iowa Army National Guard's 186th Military Police Company of Camp Dodge, Iowa, The Army Times reported. He had been deployed to Cuba in support of Joint Task-Force Guantanamo.

"This is indeed a sad day for the Iowa National Guard. The loss of a Soldier under any circumstances is difficult. My heart aches for Matthew's family as well as the Soldiers he served with in the 186th MP Company," Iowa National Guard Maj. Gen. Tim Orr said in a news release. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cox family and his fellow soldiers. We will do everything in our power to assist them during this difficult time."

Cox, was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and later lived in Leon, about 70 miles away. He was homeschooled before enlisting in the Iowa Army National Guard in 2017. Cox's awards included the Army Service Ribbon and the National Defense Service Medal.

Authorities continue to investigate the incident.

Fox News' Kathleen Joyce contributed to this report.

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