Mark Fox is a Vice Admiral in the United States Navy but many people in the Big Country simply know him as a swimmer from Abilene High.
"There's nothing like coming home after a long period of time," said Fox. "I still have lots and lots of friends here and family, it's just home."
Fox was commissioned into the Navy after he graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy in 1978 and was a designated naval aviator in 1980. Recently he served at the Strait of Hormuz, which is the portal for 20 percent of the world's oil supply. He said a lot of his success came from building trust with people native to the land.
"I found a lot of my job is really working on building the trust and confidence that you're a good partner," he said.
He also found areas of mutual concern to form a platform for continued success.
"You find the areas of your national self-interests and you find other nation's self-interest and there are places where those self-interests overlap," he said. "Then you discover you can work together."
Fox said he also has to combat negative rhetoric from countries in the Middle East that don't like the presence of the United States.
"They're making this big bluster about U. S. Navy warships are not welcome in this part of the world, and we liberated a bunch of their sailors," he said. "The pictures are really compelling, these Iranian fishermen are all waving and got on Navy ball caps and shirts."
The last time Fox was in the United States was on Mother's Day of 2011. "Growing up in a place with wonderful people, with solid values and tremendous support is a wonderful place to grow up," he said.
"It's great to be home."