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NEWS | Dec. 7, 2023

Illinois Army National Guard's 'Top Cook' Retires After More Than 27 Years of Service

Illinois Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joseph Cook of Lincoln, Illinois, retired with more than 27 years of service on Dec. 3 at the Illinois National Guard's headquarters on Camp Lincoln in Springfield. 

Cook was the Illinois Army National Guard's top food service officer. He transferred to Illinois from the California Army National Guard in 2019 and conducted a 100 percent inventory of all of the Illinois Army National Guard's dining facility equipment allowing for accurate future budget projections. He was vital in helping the Illinois Army National Guard stand up field feeding platoons. He assisted the 634th Brigade Support Battalion with winning the Army-wide Philip A. Connelly Award for food service in 2020 and assisted the 1544th Transportation Co. win the regional competition in 2022. 

Cook enlisted in the active Army in 1992. In 1993 he deployed as a food service specialist to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Hammer. While on active duty, he competed in the Army's Philip A. Connelly Award Program three times winning first place with the 864th Engineer Battalion and was a runner up the two other times. 

After a short break in service, Cook enlisted in the California Army National Guard in 2005 and deployed with the 1114th Transportation Company as a platoon sergeant to Al Asad, Iraq. He became the food operations sergeant upon his return from deployment. He rose to the rank of sergeant first class before being selected for warrant officer school in 2012. In 2013 he was selected as the California Army National Guard's state food program manager and in 2016 he began guest instructing at the National Guard Professional Education Center's Food Management Course in Little Rock, Arkansas, and joined the National Guard Bureau's list of trusted evaluators for the Philip A. Connelly Award. 

He transferred to the Illinois Army National Guard as the state food program manager in 2019. 

He has close to 30 awards and commendations including the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Southwest Asia Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, the Korean Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, and numerous Illinois and California awards. 

He lives on his family farm in Lincoln, Illinois, with his spouse, Claire, and their daughters 11-year-old Sophia and 13-year-old Claire. The couple also has an adult son, Logan.