By Kevin Fleming, ASC Public AffairsNovember 17, 2015
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Standing at attention with his fellow alumni in front of 70,000 cheering Hawkeye fans, a local Soldier, an officer and a teacher reconnected with his roots.
"Standing there in formation, it's impossible to turn your head to take the entire crowd in," said Lt. Col. Brad Cook, inspector general, U.S. Army Sustainment Command.
"I could catch a glimpse with my eyes, but didn't want to lose focus," he continued. "I just focused on the field and the Hawkeye players standing on the home sideline. All the rest of the crowd just turned to an immense, deafening background blur."
When Cook was an undergraduate student and cadet in the Army ROTC detachment at the University of Iowa in the early 1990s, he often served in the school's color guard.
About 24 years later, Cook stood at the center of the field in a sold-out Kinnick Stadium to be honored with his fellow Soldiers and veterans at the Hawkeye's Veterans Football Game versus the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Nov. 14. The Hawkeyes beat the Golden Gophers 40-30, moving to 10-0 for the first time in school history.
"It was great, but probably even more meaningful this time," said Cook. "While more of a regular occurrence for me as a cadet, this was the first time in 100 plus years of [Hawkeye] school ROTC history that we conducted an alumni color guard."
Cook volunteered and was selected by the UI's Army ROTC detachment and the UI football program to participate in the color guard with four other distinguished alumni: Retired Master Sgt. Dave Stone, retired Col. Gary "Dave" Lewis, Lt. Col. Mark Coble of the Iowa Army National Guard, and Lt. Col. Michael Brothers of the Army Reserve.
Cook said he was proud to stand with his compatriots.
"What an honor to represent the Army and my nation in front of such a large crowd of my fellow countrymen, while simultaneously representing the long black-and-gold line of my fellow University of Iowa Army ROTC alumni," he said.
Cook said he gained a lot from his experiences as an ROTC cadet.
"My ROTC military science studies helped prepare me to be a leader, teaching me what leadership means in the Army," he said. "ROTC provided a baseline for my platoon sergeant, NCOs, and company commander to build on when I arrived to my platoon at the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) back in 1995."
Cook graduated with both his bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science from UI. He said it is important to him to stay connected with his alma mater.
"I have tried to maintain a close relationship with the university since I graduated and was commissioned," he said, continuing that he recently participated in the UI's Army ROTC Game Ball Run.
The run is an annual event where UI ROTC cadets run a football 10 miles through cities leading to Tama, Iowa, where they hand the ball off to ROTC cadets from Iowa State University. The event signifies the start of the football season, and cadets collect canned goods for a food drive.
"It's my ability to continue to do things with cadets that I have really enjoyed," he said.
Cook graduated from Bettendorf High School, Iowa, in 1991 and then signed a four-year ROTC contract. After graduating with his first master's degree, Cook taught for three years at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he taught an introductory course in information technology, as well as courses in computer networking class and information warfare.
While at West Point, Cook said he developed even more of a passion for working with cadets.
"I loved working with cadets so much, eventually going back to work with them, at West Point or at UI, is a top career goal for me," he said. "I loved the experience of teaching."
Cook said he decided to join the Army to follow his father's example.
"I'm an Army brat. My father joined the Iowa Army National Guard in 1972 and was a Soldier as far back as I can remember," he said. "I was exposed to the Army throughout my childhood and always thought it would be fun to be a Soldier."
During his 20-year career, Cook has served throughout the U.S. and abroad in Afghanistan and Kuwait. Cook recently returned from a yearlong tour in Izmir, Turkey where he served as the the Chief of Information Management at Headquarters, NATO Allied Land Command.
"In all the jobs and locations I've served so far, I enjoy the constant challenge of trying to make a difference and adding value wherever I can," he said.
Cook said he is also very grateful for his family's support.
"My family has experienced first-hand the impact of multiple deployments, many moves and the stress that military families have to endure because of high operational tempo" he said. "Yet they continue to support my choice of profession and the work that I do ?- for which I am immensely grateful."
In the short term, Cook said his goals are simple.
"I hope to settle back in to family life and watch my children graduate from high school and transition to college over the next couple of years," he said.
The Hawkeyes further recognized military veterans for their service during the halftime of the game. The following is a list of some of the accomplishments of the others who served in the color guard with Cook:
Retired Master Sgt. Dave Stone deployed in support of the Gulf War. He eventually ended his career as the senior military instructor at the University of Iowa Reserve Officer Training Corps Detachment.
Retired Col. Gary "Dave" Lewis served in the Iowa National Guard for 26 years. Lewis was the Deputy Commander of the Iowa National Guard's Agri-Business Development Team in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010. He was awarded the Combat Action Badge and Bronze Star Medal.
Lt. Col. Mark Coble of the Iowa Army National Guard has served as the commander of the 224th Engineer Battalion. He deployed for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has was awarded the Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal, Operation Iraqi Freedom Campaign Medal, Operation Enduring Freedom Campaign Medal, and the Combat Action Badge.
Lt. Col. Michael Brothers of the Army Reserve has been deployed to Germany during Operation Desert Shield/Storm as a company commander, brigade engineering officer, and chief construction engineer. In 2011, he deployed to Afghanistan in support of an Army Corps of Engineers operation. He received the Bronze Star while on deployment. He plans on retiring in December 2015.