When Mike Cox, volunteered to go to
Yet, when he returned home to
Cox volunteered to be deployed as the director of public works at Contingency Operating Base Delta in Al Kut,
"It's really about supporting our troops, from my viewpoint." Cox said, humbly skirting the topic of the award.
While Cox did say he was honored to receive the medal, his real reward was being able to provide technical support to the troops.
"There was a need and I was able to contribute to that," he said.
Almost 30 years of employment at the Department of Defense, Cox has traveled overseas for business trips, but has never spent time in combat zones.
"It definitely provided a deeper appreciation for what we ask our military to do," he said of the experience. "They helped me more than I helped them."
Civilians don't always experience the perils of war firsthand as Cox said. During his year in
"When they pack up and leave, they're leaving their families behind to support our nation and put their life on the line," he said. "We kind of forget that as civilians."
"I learned we have a lot of similar goals and wishes," Cox said of the Iraqis he met. "Those I worked with I found to be very gracious and hospitable. They actually thanked me. And I'm just a civilian."
"They have the same hopes for the future as we do; they just have a harder road ahead of them."
When he returned to the
"I definitely have a different perspective of the things I used to consider important," he said. "I think it's important as civilians to be aware of what we ask out soldiers, airmen and sailors to do."