Master Sgt. William H. Cox and First Sgt. James T.”Hollie” Hollingsworth share a bond that can never be broken.
Perhaps this is because the Marines have gone through a harrowing situation that, thankfully, most of us can never imagine let alone experience.
Cox and Hollingsworth spent New Years Eve 1968 as if it was there last day on Earth. And it very well could have been. It was just before dawn when they were hunkered down together in a bunker in the Marble Mountains of Vietnam.
Mortars and rockets were flying through the sky all around them and they weren’t sure if they would survive the ordeal.
“Charlie (the nickname for the North Vietnamese) was really putting on a fireworks show for us,” Cox told Greenville News.
The two decided to make a pact to solidify their bond and friendship, which was more like a brotherhood.
“If we survived this attack, or survived Vietnam, we would contact each other every year on New Year’s,” Cox recalls.
The two did survive that night and they were sure to keep their promise.
They remained friends over the next five decades and watched each other grow up and create lives for themselves. And they spent every New Years together catching up.
But when Cox traveled from his home in Piedmont, South Carolina to Hollingsworth home in Hephzibah, Georgia he found himself having to make another promise.
His comrade found out that he was terminally and he asked Cox to deliver the eulogy at his funeral.
“I said, ‘Boy, that’s a rough mission you’re assigning me to there,’” Cox said.
Despite the difficulty in accepting such a mission, he did. There’s a certain code amongst military members that he knew he had to uphold.
“There’s a bond between Marines that’s different from any other branch of service. We’re like brothers,” he said.
Their brother-like bond began in 1968 when they met on their way to Vietnam. They served in the VMO-2 Marine helicopter squadron. Hollingsworth served as a mechanic and door gunner, while Cox was an ordnance chief and a door gunner.
After their service, Hollingsworth settled in Georgia and Cox spent 20 years in the Marine Corps receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service.
But during their time together in the Marines, they had a saying they would repeat at the end of every mission.
“You keep ‘em flying, and I’ll keep ‘em firing.” It was something that Cox would repeat at the end of Hollingsworth’s final mission, which was his life.
Cox uttered the phrase at the very end of Hollingsworth’s eulogy where he stood by his buddy’s casket for the entire funeral without his cane. Because promises are meant to be kept, especially if you’re a Marine.
Learn more about the powerful bond between these men in the video below.
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Source: The Western Journal