A former United States Marine by the name of 1st Sgt. James T. Hollingsworth passed away recently, and this compelling picture of his brother in arms, Master Sgt. William H. Cox, standing at Parade Rest has made viral rounds across the internet.

According to Greenville News, the two fought together in Vietnam–1st Sgt. Hollingsworth was a mechanic and both served as door gunners. Master Sgt. Cox was also an Ordnance Chief.

They saw plenty of combat in Vietnam. They flew numerous missions side by side, over some of the most volatile jungles in the world at the time. Bullets can cut through many parts of a helicopter with relative ease, so just because they were in a flying metal box doesn’t mean they were safe from incoming rounds, not to mention the exposure a door gunner can have to the outside world, and how much fire they often draw when they start laying down serious rounds.

At one point, the two of them were taking cover as the enemy was mortaring and firing rockets at their position. They promised one another that if they made it through, they would get in touch at least every New Years after that–and so they did. Years later, “Hollie” fell ill and knew his time was up. He called up his brother in arms and asked him to carry out another “rough mission”–to give his eulogy when he passed. But as they had so many times before, 1st Sgt. Cox stepped up and paid his friend the respect he deserved.

The two men served in VMO-2, or Marine Observation Squadron 2. The unit was involved in extensive combat operations throughout Vietnam, flying aircraft such as the UH-1E Iroquois, OV-10 Bronco and the AH-1G Cobra. Fun fact: in “Magnum P.I.,” many of the leading characters in the show had served in this unit (fictitiously).

My thoughts:

This is the type of picture that lights a fire in me. To me, it seems that the older a veteran gets, the more their service means to them. When you’re in, it’s difficult to separate the stark reality of the situation from the valid feelings of pride and accomplishment. They all get muddled up and you just sort of carry on.

However, seeing pictures of older veterans like them reminds me of the timeless things I learned during my service. The things like loyalty, brotherhood, service and leading by example–they are all exemplified in a simple picture like this, of one Marine paying respects to his brother who has headed into the great unknown. I consider myself lucky to have served next to men of this caliber, and hope they value my friendship as much as Master Sgt. Cox valued his with his friend and brother, 1st Sgt. James Hollingsworth.


Image courtesy of Greenville News via Imgur.