Just when you start to think society’s coming apart at the seams, a story comes along showing us there are still real heroes.
Retired Marine Master Sgt. William H. Cox promised his lifelong friend, Marine First Sgt. James “Hollie” Hollingsworth, that he would stand beside his casket in his full dress blues. When Hollingsworth passed, Cox made good on his word, Greenville Online reports.
The two men met in 1968 on their way to the center of the Vietnam War. While in a bunker in the country’s Marble Mountains, the pair made a pact in the heat of battle.
“If we survived this attack, or survived Vietnam, we would contact each other every year on New Year’s,” Cox recalled.
Cox and Hollingsworth served side-by-side throughout the war as members of the VMO-2 Marine helicopter squadron. Hollingsworth was a mechanic and a door gunner and Cox was an ordnance chief and a door gunner.
Cox developed a saying during their missions: “Hollie, you keep ‘em flying, and I’ll keep ‘em firing.”
After the war, the two men stayed true to their word, keeping in touch every New Year’s. Often they would visit each other.
When Cox learned his old friend was ill, he went to see him. It was then that he received a special commission: to stand guard at Hollingsworth’s casket and deliver a eulogy at his funeral.
“Boy, that’s a rough mission you’re assigning me to there,” Cox told his friend.
After Hollingsworth crossed to the other side, Cox kept his promise. The 20-year Marine Corps. vet and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross explained the deep relationship between him and Hollingsworth.
“There’s a bond between Marines that’s different from any other branch of service. We’re like brothers.”
Cox closed his eulogy with his oft-repeated saying, reminiscing on the days he and his friend served together.
“Hollie, you keep ‘em flying, and I’ll keep ‘em firing.”