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Iowa soldier drowns near Cuba

An Iowa Army National Guard soldier drowned while swimming in the ocean near the American base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Tuesday, military leaders announced Thursday evening.

The soldier was identified as Pfc. Matthew A. Cox, 19, of Leon.

He was a member of the 186th Military Police Co. based at Camp Dodge in Johnston. He was deployed to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.

“This is indeed a sad day for the Iowa National Guard” Maj. Gen. Tim Orr, the state’s adjutant general, said in a written statement.

“My heart aches for Matthew’s family as well as the soldiers he served with in the 186th MP Co.,” he added. “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 diffucult time.”

Cox and four other people were swimming at Cable Beach when he was overpowered by the strong current, according to the Iowa National Guard. A rescue effort that involved divers, boats and aircraft was launched. His body was found Wednesday.

Cox was a native of Des Moines. He was homeschooled. The soldier was active in the Civil Air Patrol, the Des Moines Police Explorers and First Baptist Church in Urbandale. He farmed with his grandparents near Leon.

The solider enlisted in the Iowa Army National Guard on Oct. 11, 2017. He was deployed to Cuba in July.

His military awards included the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.

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