Reported by Greenville Online: Marine Master Sgt. William H. Cox, 83, made a pact with First Sgt. James T. Hollingsworth while hunkered down in a bunker during a firefight in the Marble Mountains of Vietnam: “If we survived this attack, or survived Vietnam, we would contact each other every year on New Year’s.” Marine brotherhood forged in fire.
The firefight was a rough one, according to accounts of the Marble Mountain battles. Rockets and Mortars rained down on the American Marines constantly.
“Charlie (the nickname for the North Vietnamese) was really putting on a fireworks show for us.” William Cox
The Marine brotherhood – promises kept
But bonds between Marines are a strong brotherhood, one that is supposed to be forever. For these two men, that will wait for the next reality.
“There’s a bond between Marines that’s different from any other branch of service. We’re like brothers.” William Cox
The two men met on their way to Vietnam in 1968. They served together in a VMO-2, Marine Helicopter squadron. Cox was an ordnance Chief and door gunner, while Hollingsworth (aka Hollie) was a mechanic and door gunner. Cox used to tell Hollie, “Hollie, you keep ‘em flying, and I’ll keep ‘em firing.”
After the war, Cox went on to serve 20 years in the US Marine Corps, eventually earning the Distinguished Flying Cross. For 50 years the two men kept in touch every New Years. Until Hollingsworth became terminally ill.
When Cox visited his friend for the last time, he promised Hollingsworth that he would deliver the Eulogy at his funeral. It was a promise kept, including standing guard duty at his buddy’s casket, even without his usual cane.
His honor for his friend was more than a duty to a brother. It was friendship of the kind only Marines understand.
Marble Mountains of Vietnam
The Marble Mountains were south of Da Nang, and contained the Marble Mountain Air Facility for the US, but also in the mountains was a hospital for the Vietcong. The Air Facility was also not far from China Beach.
“…125 degree heat, the lack of hot water, the filth of not being able to bathe for days at a time, the monsoons that provide unrelenting rain…the need for R & R when exhaustion is so deep a man can’t process what’s going on around him… how pilots need to look straight ahead to keep focus when flying a mutilated Marine out of a zone where heavy fire is threatening all ability to escape the area.” Review of Marble Mountain, A Vietnam Memoir by Bud Willis