The annual Veterans Day Parade boasts two WWII veterans including Corp Ray Cox.
Organized by the Lumpkin County Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee, the parade begins from Courthouse Hill Saturday, Nov. 9, 11 a.m. and winds its way around the Public Square.
There will be a reception for participating veterans following at the American Legion Post 239, 232 Legion Road just off Morrison Moore Parkway.
CORP. RAY DEAN COX
Born at the start of the Great Depression in 1929 in Stephens County, Ray Dean Cox enlisted in the Army Air Corps on June 17, 1947 after finishing high school.
“My mother had to sign for me as I was only 17,” he said. “Her advice—’Son, don’t be riding in any of those ole airplanes.’”
Cox took his mother’s advice, serving as a medical tech and instructor the majority of his military career. After Basic Training he was assigned to Randolph Field, San Antonio, Texas.
“It was known as the West Point of the Air. The school was called the Aviations School of Medicine. If we made A’s we could go to Brook Army Medical Center and get the class of our choice. When we got there the choices were med tech and surgical tech,” Cox said.
Cox was then sent to Hamilton Field on the west coast to await overseas assignment.
It took six months, but orders came for Cos to report to Adak Island, Alaska, near Siberia. This was not a pleasant thought, as that part of the world is “very cold,” he said. “I managed to get off that assignment, but was later sent to Okinawa, Japan—in the summertime. It was very hot.”
No Air Force fighter wing was in Okinawa at the time, so Cox was assigned to a Naval fighter wing for a time.
He was then sent to the Army Station Hospital, where he trained incoming medical techs to work in the obstetrics.
“I was always assigned to take care of dependents and to transfer patients to Japan and the Philippines to general hospitals,” he said.
Cox’s service as a med tech did not entirely keep him out of danger, however. While in Okinawa, he experienced the wrath of South Pacific typhoons.
“They were terrible,” he said, “much stronger than the Atlantic hurricanes. And we were in Quonset Huts.
Once back in the U.S. Cox was assigned to an Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron just before the Korean War broke out. The Army froze all discharges as of July 1, 1950. Cox, however, was scheduled to be discharged June 17, 1950.
“Thirteen days saved me from being assigned to Korea,” he said.
But it didn’t dissuade the Army from keeping him. Cox developed a physical condition involving his ability to read and had seizures while serving in Okinawa that sent him to Walter Reed Hospital before he could be discharged.
He was later sent to Brook General Hospital to allow a German neurologist to examine and study his case.
“They told me mine was the only case like that in medical history,” Cox said. “After almost a year in the hospital they took my case before the Medial evaluation Board and approved my medical discharge … and I was sent to D.C. for final approval.”
Finally, on March 6, 1951, Cox was discharged and moved to Anderson, S.C. to live with his grandparents, working the textile industry. He later moved to Atlanta where he took a better-paying job as a weaver.
Shortly after moving to Atlanta Cox became active in the American Legion Post 1. He became a Master Mason, bought property in Gwinnett County and married Virginia Sprayberry. The couple had one son, Tim G. Bennett, and have now been married 55 years.
Active in civic affairs while the county changed from rural to urban, Cox served as president of the Civic Association and worked to changed Gwinnett’s from of government from a two-man commission to a board of commissioners it has today. As a member of the Grand Jury he worked to get a new administration building and jail built in the county.
Cox was also active in the Lions International and a charter treasurer of the Lilburn Lions, being awarded the prestigious Melvin Jones Fellow Award.