Thursday, May 30, 2024

Stratford Veterans Museum

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Veteran of the Month

by Wayne Cox

Stratford Veterans Museum

Veteran of the Month: Wayne Cox 

Excerpts from the Wayne Cox video were produced by Greg Sperling

E-7 SFC Wayne Cox graduated from Stratford High School in 1969. He got married that summer. Upon returning from his honeymoon, a draft notice was received in the mail. He started his service in October with a tour in Vietnam that began in May of 1970. He began as a two year draftee that became a twenty year career. He served in the Army from October 13, 1969, to November 1st ,1989.

I went in on 13 October 1969, Cox went to Fort Dix New Jersey for basic training and was in basic two weeks. He finished basic training, left for Advanced Training at Maguire Air Force Base where he was flown to Fort Polk Louisiana. He was a light weapons infantry. Cox pointed out that when you get drafted you don’t really get to pick what field you want to go into. Basics on AIT finished around the 15th of April, 1970. He had two weeks before he graduated and the whole Battalion had orders for Germany. Three days before he graduated they rescinded our order and made everybody go into Vietnam.

He reported out to Travis Air Force Base in California, from Travis Air Force Base California to Alaska Anchorage, then from Alaska to Hawaii, Hawaii to Guam, from Guam into Vietnam into Benoit, which is probably about 40 kilometers north of Saigon.

I’m sitting up in the front of the airplane matter the door opens up, the whoosh of hot air coming into that plane hits you right in the face and the smell is just so much different.  An MP comes on, says, “Gentlemen I like to welcome you at the Republic of Vietnam. If we should come into rocket and mortar attack on the way into the building, please proceed into the building and lay flat down on the floor.” So we start going off the plane and I’m one of the first ones out of the plane down the ramp and into the building and you walk into the building and he says okay we’re loading you up on buses, you’re going over to 90s replacement in Long Bend, which is kind of adjacent to Benoit base. Right there you just have to go through Benoit Village on the main road. So they load us up in buses and they got a Jeep in between each bus with three MPS and M60s in the back, and each bus, each Jeep and the buses have these screens on them. One of the guys says those are RPG screens, RPG screens to stop Rocket Propelled Grenades from going into the bus. It’ll detonate by the window but it won’t go into the bus.

On the 2nd of June we pulled out. Everybody had to be out of Cambodia by the 28th, 29th of June. Everybody that went in had to get out and bring everything they could with them, everything else was going to be blown in place. It was a good operation. It was a big operation, and that was really my baptism of fire. To say that you’re not scared, you are you know, and if you’re not, something’s wrong.

“On 22 June 1970, while participating in the Cambodian Campaign, and assigned to B Co 2/12 Cav as an M79 Grenadier, a light observation helicopter (LOH) crash landed 70 yards from my position. I ran to the badly damaged and burning chopper and pulled the Pilot and Co-pilot out as more help arrived. For this I was awarded the Bronze Star w/V.”

While stationed at Fort Devens in 1975, Wayne was involved with the Vietnamese refugees at Indiantown Gap, PA for Class 1 operations for two months. He was also responsible for Class 1 Ops in Italy, Belgium, Holland, and Germany.

Wayne retired in 1989 in White Oak in North Carolina. He served four years as an EMT and graduated from college. Eventually he became a history teacher of social studies until 2011. While again retired, he started creating these special cards for veterans. Over the past 8 years he has distributed close to 3000 to veterans.

Visit www.stfdveteransmuseum.org, click on Veterans Stories, then on Wayne Cox for photos of his service and to listen to his interview on You Tube.

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