Staff Sargent Robert Cook was pleasantly surprised when he was unexpectedly reunited with Congressman Brian Mast, when the Congressman visited Warsaw as part of a Congressional delegation headed by House Speaker Paul Ryan. The two served together in 2010 in Kandahar province in Afghanistan under the effort of the 101st Airborne Division, as part of the NATO counter-insurgent mission.
Cook was part of the Operation Test Command testing new equipment with Special Operations Forces and Congressman Mast was one of the bomb technicians assigned to the area. Cook holds Congressman Mast in the highest regard for his service in Afghanistan, including surviving a life-threatening injury: “Most people don’t understand he represents everything we are and the values we hold.” In Fall 2010, Congressman Mast was injured by an improvised bomb.
Cook recalled that day, writing: “There was a loud boom in the background, all we heard on the radio was that the team was hit.” The two men lost contact afterwards and had not seen each other for over seven years. So when the Congressional delegation arrived at Embassy Warsaw for meetings, the men were overjoyed to meet again.
Cook is very proud of the Congressman, saying that when one military brother is successful in rising to a political level, it is “absolutely awesome.”