An 83-year-old war veteran kept his final promise that he made to a fellow US Marine in Vietnam 49 years ago.
It was the New Year’s Eve 1968 when Master Sgt. William H. Cox and First Sgt. James T. Hollingsworth were together under heavy mortar and rocket fire in the Marble Mountains of Vietnam.
They were unsure whether they would survive or not, so the two marines made a promise to each other.
If they made it out alive, they would talk to each other every New Year’s Eve for the rest of their days.
“Charlie [the US soldiers’ nickname for the North Vietnam forces] was really putting on a fireworks show for us.”
“If we survived this attack, or survived Vietnam, we [said we] would contact each other every year on New Year’s.” Mr. Cox said.
And, they made it out of that bunker alive.
They served in the marines for another 20 years after they left Vietnam. Then, they went their separate ways, but they kept their promise and never failed to contact each other every New Year’s Eve for five decades.
“People ask me, ‘Haven’t you forgot about the promise? I say no, I haven’t forgotten about it. A promise made is a promise kept, especially to another Marine.” Sgt. Cox told Fox 19.
But this year Sgt. Cox found out that Sgt. Hollingsworth had a terminal disease. After learning about his condition, he traveled from his home in South Carolina to Georgia to visit his old friend one last time in Hephzibah, Georgia.
Sgt. Hollingsworth had one last request for Sgt. Cox.
Mr. Hollingsworth, 80, asked his old comrade to deliver the eulogy at his funeral.
“He said, Willie, I got one more thing I want you to promise me. He said ‘you know me better than my own family and I want you to do my eulogy’.” Sgt. Cox told Fox 19.
“Boy, that’s a rough mission you’re assigning me to do there,” Sgt. Cox told his friend.
“There’s a bond between Marines that’s different from any other branch of service. We’re like brothers.” Sgt. Cox tells Greenville Online.
Sgt. Cox kept his promise when his friend Mr. Hollingsworth passed away aged 80. Dressed in his full Marines uniform, Mr. Cox honored his friend’s request by delivering his eulogy.
Mr. Cox delivered a touching eulogy and finished it with the phrase he used to use at the end of their combat missions: “Hollie, you keep ’em flying, and I’ll keep ’em firing.”