Kentuckiana marine hero comes home before ninth deployment


by Bryan Baker

Posted on July 6, 2012 at 11:59 PM

Updated Saturday, Jul 7 at 12:01 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Gunnery Sergeant Bryan Cox isn't a household name. When he fired the ceremonial first pitch to the Louisville Bats catcher before a game against the Toledo Mud Hens at Slugger Field, it's likely few know his name in the crowd either.

"It's a job and sometimes the hours are long and you have to go out of town, but other than that, I mean it's been good, it's been a good life," Cox said.

He talks like it, but it's not just any other job.

"I still get kinda tingly everytime we take off, even in Miramar, much less in Afghanistan," he adds. "It definitely makes the hair on my arms stand up everytime, but I think as long as it's still doing that it's still good doing what I do."

His mom, Libby Hill, has dealt with nearly 18 years of his nine deployments, from when he joined in 1994 out of Jeffersonville High School (he also spent time at Male High in Louisville) to the first deployment in 1996 to his helicopter being the first one to hit the ground in Afghanistan less than a month after Sept. 11, 2001 to what he may be recognized for the most: leading the helicopter crew that rescued Prisoner of War Jessica Lynch from an Iraqi hospital after she was captured in 2003.

"It was pretty cool to be on, probably one of the scarier nights I've had, but that's why we train. We go out and land in the desert everyday and every night in Southern California and Arizona and that's what you train for, nights like that."

His mom says his journey began in 1994 when he attempted to talk a friend out of the military, then ended up joining himself.

"It's tough for a Mom, but I'm trying to hang in there with it, makes me a little teared up."

He's a native son of Louisville and now works as a helicopter crew chief. He'll deploy this month for the 9th time, this time to Afghanistan.

"I tell all the guys we fly with, I'm probably one of the more scared people that we have, just the time that I've been doing it. You see things, and you learn a lot more, I think the fear of not knowing hasn't hit some of our younger guys yet."

He'll see combat again when he deploys at the end of July to Afghanistan. This time it's for 7 months, in what his Mom hopes is the final time.