Master Sgt. William H. Cox and First Sgt. James T. Hollingsworth spent New Years Eve 1968 in a bunker in the Marble Mountains of Vietnam. There, the Marines made a promise to each other that they would follow them for nearly five decades.
“If we survived this attack, or survived Vietnam, we would contact each other every year on New Year’s,” Cox remembered.
The pair first met in 1968 while making their way to the battlefield. Cox served as an ordnance chief while Hollingsworth served as a mechanic in VMO-2, a Marine helicopter squadron. Both were also door gunners. They would tell each other at the end of each mission “you keep ‘em flying, and I’ll keep ‘em firing.”
The men survived the war and went their separate ways. Cox spent 20 more years in the service and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Hollingsworth settled down in Georgia. They managed to stay in contact since.
When Cox learned that Hollingsworth was terminally ill, he was asked to make another promise. Cox told his friend, “Boy, that’s a rough mission you’re assigning me to there,” but he kept it anyway.
Cox stood guard at Hollingsworth’s casket earlier this year, noticeably standing without the usual assistance of his cane.
While delivering the eulogy, Cox remembered the saying he shared with his friend.
“Hollie, you keep ‘em flying, and I’ll keep ‘em firing,'” he said as he closed.
While recalling the promise he made, Cox said “There’s a bond between Marines that’s different from any other branch of service. We’re like brothers.”
(H/T KGW News)