By Kevin Robert at Breaking First –
Those in attendance for a Vietnam veteran’s funeral were in for quite a shock upon entering the funeral home in Alabama near the end of October.
Ret. Marine First Sgt. James “Hollie” Hollingsworth was being laid to rest on Oct. 20 of this year in Hephzibah, Georgia, and standing by his side was Ret. Marine Master Sgt. William H. Cox. The pair served together in Vietnam and were complete strangers at the start of the war, but one fateful night led to a promise that took the next fifty years to fulfill.
According to the Daily Mail, Cox and Hollie flew over 200 missions together in the same Huey helicopter. Both were door gunners, and both saw things in combat none of us could ever imagine, but it wasn’t until they came under mortar attack in a bunker in the Marble Mountains on New Year’s Eve that they made a pact that if they were to make it out alive, they would make an effort to contact one another every New Year’s Eve after.
They ended up fighting their way out of the bunker and surviving.
The brotherly bond the pair formed would lead to them both making good on their promise. Five decades later, they had either called or saw one another every December 31.
But this past summer, Hollie fell ill, so his 83-year-old brother-in-arms made the 200-mile trip to visit his old friend. When the two spoke, Hollie asked one last favor of Cox – if he would stand watch over his casket and deliver the eulogy at his funeral.
“I said, ‘Boy, that’s a rough mission you’re assigning me to there,’” Cox told Greenvilleonline.com.
From the Daily Mail:
A photo shared to Facebook by Hollingsworth’s son shows the two men catching up like old times in deep conversation back in July.
‘Two great Marines were reunited once again. These two flew over 200 missions on the same Huey in Vietnam,’ his son wrote alongside the image.
‘I have always been proud of my father and his service to our Country. Love hearing the stories from his closest friend.’
His son said the last thing Cox told Hollingsworth was a phrase they often exchanged when they closed their conversations – ‘Hollie, you keep ’em flying, and I’ll keep ’em firing.’
After delivering an emotional eulogy at the funeral, Cox closed his speech by telling his deceased friend, “Hollie, you keep ‘em flying and I’ll keep ‘em firing.”
A photo taken by Hollie’s son shows Cox keeping his word.
‘My 83-year-old father, Master Sergeant William H.Cox, USMC, Retired, honoring one of his Vietnam brothers, First Sergeant James J. Hollingsworth (Hollie),’ he captioned it.
‘They made a pact to stay in touch, if they survived their tour, and they did. Both were door gunners, and dad was the only enlisted man in VMO-2 to be awarded the DFC in Vietnam.
‘He has to use a cane most of the time now, but he insisted on not using it during his vigil at the casket and at the funeral.’
When asked about his friendship with Hollie, Cox replied that their bond as Marines is “different than any other branch of service” and he considered Hollie to “be a brother.”
Money can’t buy friendship and dedication like this.
H/T – America’s Freedom Fighters for this article.
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