For nearly 50 years, two Vietnam vets kept alive a New Year's Eve pact

Hunkered in a Vietnam bunker, with rockets and mortar shells raining down, the two Marines made a pact.It was ...

Posted: Jan 1, 2018 2:57 PM
Updated: Jan 1, 2018 2:57 PM

Hunkered in a Vietnam bunker, with rockets and mortar shells raining down, the two Marines made a pact.

It was New year's Eve, 1968. And they promised that if they survived the war and made it home alive, the two would call each other every New Year's Eve.

William Cox and James Hollingsworth make pact in Vietnam bunker

For first time in half century, old marine marks New Year's without buddy

And they did. For nearly half a century, Master Sgt. William Cox and Sgt. James Hollingsworth checked up on each other.

But on Sunday, Cox will ring in the New Year alone.

His friend "Hollie" died in October. He was 80 years old.

A promise made

Cox and Hollingsworth flew missions together as helicopter door gunners. On the ground in Vietnam, Hollingsworth helped maintain the choppers. Cox kept track of ammunition.

In the midst of war, their friendship was a refuge.

"Hollie and I, we had our antics to relieve the tension," Cox said. They told each other things they didn't tell anyone else.

"Sometimes we would laugh, sometimes we would cry.

"'You know me better than my family,'" Cox recalls Hollingsworth telling him.

A promise kept

Hollingsworth or "Hollie" moved to Georgia after his tour in Vietnam.

Cox stayed in the Marine Corps, serving 20 years.

Early this year, Cox went to Georgia to visit his friend.

It was clear there wouldn't be a New Years phone call on the 50th year of their pact.

Hollingsworth was terminally ill and asked his battle buddy to deliver the eulogy at his funeral.

"After I left his house, I broke down," Cox recalled. "Not about what he asked me to do, but that he was going to be checking out of life, and I was going to be a part of his departure. But I was obligated."

A final farewell

In October, Cox fulfilled that final promise. He gave Hollingsworth's eulogy and then stood vigil beside the coffin.

"I wanted to be with him as long as I could," he said. "If it had been me, he would have been standing there."

The Marine Corps motto is "Semper Fidelis," Latin for "always faithful," and those words resounded as Cox stood by Hollingsworth one last time.

He ended the eulogy with a phrase the two used to repeat: "Hollie, you keep 'em flying, and I'll keep 'em firing."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16560

Reported Deaths: 794
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds107426
Madison76728
Lauderdale75968
Neshoba72844
Jones70133
Scott66312
Forrest59539
DeSoto57510
Rankin4569
Leake45212
Holmes44330
Copiah3294
Jackson31415
Attala31118
Yazoo2964
Newton2884
Lincoln28031
Leflore27736
Oktibbeha27314
Harrison2697
Monroe26925
Wayne2623
Lamar2505
Lowndes2479
Pearl River21231
Pike20411
Adams20316
Washington1987
Warren19610
Lee1948
Noxubee1936
Covington1792
Bolivar16911
Jasper1674
Clarke15619
Smith15511
Kemper15511
Lafayette1544
Chickasaw14014
Coahoma1314
Clay1254
Winston1241
Carroll11911
Marion1169
Claiborne1155
Lawrence1071
Grenada1074
Simpson1040
Yalobusha1046
Sunflower923
Tate911
Hancock9012
Union897
Itawamba897
Marshall873
Wilkinson859
Panola843
Montgomery841
Webster844
Jefferson Davis823
Tippah7611
Calhoun674
Amite661
Walthall640
Humphreys637
Tunica583
Prentiss533
Perry513
Choctaw502
Pontotoc473
Jefferson421
Tishomingo360
Greene331
Stone320
Quitman320
Tallahatchie301
George292
Franklin292
Alcorn191
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18766

Reported Deaths: 651
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2321118
Jefferson1901104
Montgomery185843
Tuscaloosa83616
Marshall7089
Franklin5858
Lee56234
Shelby52819
Tallapoosa43466
Butler42118
Walker3862
Elmore3749
Chambers36026
Madison3534
Unassigned3062
Morgan3021
Baldwin2939
Dallas2923
Lowndes26512
Etowah26312
DeKalb2573
Autauga2415
Coffee2391
Sumter2287
Houston2265
Bullock2176
Pike2120
Colbert1902
Hale1859
Russell1810
Barbour1771
Marengo1756
Lauderdale1722
Calhoun1673
Wilcox1577
Choctaw15310
Cullman1521
Clarke1492
St. Clair1351
Randolph1287
Dale1240
Marion12411
Pickens1205
Talladega1195
Limestone1080
Chilton1071
Greene954
Macon934
Winston910
Jackson833
Covington821
Henry822
Crenshaw783
Bibb761
Escambia753
Washington736
Blount631
Lawrence510
Monroe462
Geneva440
Perry430
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar280
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Tupelo
Few Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 75°
Columbus
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 72°
Oxford
Broken Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 72°
Starkville
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 68°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather