Ron Cox was a member of the music faculty at Hobart and William Smith Colleges following his service in World War II. His sons, Tom ’72 and Rob ’76 Cox, are graduates of Hobart College. All three recently took part in a once-in-a-lifetime experience to honor Ron, an Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C.
According to an article in the Finger Lakes Times, it was Tom Cox, of Walworth, N.Y., who signed his father up for the trip (a surprise) and accompanied him.
“Along with about 50 other veterans from the Rochester area, the two left the Rochester airport last Saturday morning and arrived in Baltimore a little more than an hour later. From there, they were bused to the nation’s capital to see the sights,” the article explains. The trip included a banquet for the veterans and numerous opportunities to thank them for their service.
Rob Cox, now living in Savannah, Ga., met the two in D.C. and surprised his father.
Tom graduated from Hobart in 1972, with a B.A. in music. While at the Colleges, he was a member of the sailing team. He earned a master’s of education from SUNY Brockport. Rob earned a B.A. in music from Hobart in 1976. He was a member of the baseball team, served as captain and earning a number of awards.
Ron Cox retired from the Colleges in 1986.
The full article about the Honor Flight trip follows.
Finger Lakes Times
Praise that was long overdue
Local veteran hears thanks on Honor Flight trip
Mike Hibbard • June 13, 2010
WATERLOO – Like many World War II veterans, Ron Cox saw no fanfare and received little adulation when he returned home after serving his country.
He just picked up where he left off – re-enrolling in the Eastman School of Music of Rochester, where he was a student before being drafted in 1942. After graduating, he embarked on a long career as a music teacher at several area high schools and Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
It wasn’t until Cox – a Waterloo resident who will turn 89 next month – took an Honor Flight trip last weekend to Washington, D.C. that he finally received the thanks he and his fellow veterans deserve. It was an experience that often brought tears to his eyes when he was in the nation’s capital.
“After World War II, I just came back home like many guys. No one met me,” Cox said. “Everywhere we went (in Washington), it was ‘thank you, thank you, thank you.'”
The praise Cox and other veterans received throughout the weekend wasn’t the only surprise for the East William Street resident. The trip itself was.
Veterans are generally nominated by others to make the all-expenses-paid trip, and Walworth resident Tom Cox – Ron’s son – applied last September for his father. Ron didn’t learn about the flight until shortly before he left, and he was accompanied by his son.
Along with about 50 other veterans from the Rochester area, the two left the Rochester airport last Saturday morning and arrived in Baltimore a little more than an hour later. From there, they were bused to the nation’s capital to see the sights.
Among the stops was Arlington National Cemetery, where they witnessed the changing of the guard and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They also saw the World War II memorial at the National Mall, along with the Korea and Vietnam memorials. Other stops included the Navy Plaza and the Air Force memorial.
At many of those places, scores of people – including numerous children – made it a point of thanking the veterans for their service. Among the high points for Cox was a performance by an Alabama choir that was touring the D.C. area.
“We were greeted by children and other people on many of the stops,” Cox recalled through a few tears. “One little guy thanked me twice.”
There were more surprises in store. Cox’s son Rob, of Savannah, Ga., met Ron and Tom at one of the landmarks. At another, they were joined by Colby and Kadyn Cox – Ron’s grandson and great-grandson – from West Virginia.
Both Tom and Rob Cox are graduates of Waterloo High School and Hobart College.
Following a banquet Saturday night in Washington, the Honor Flight plane returned Sunday to Rochester, where the veterans received a welcome home celebration from several hundred people to cap off a whirlwind weekend.
“I was amazed at how smoothly the whole thing went,” said Cox, noting that all the veterans – even the ones who can still get around, like himself – were in wheelchairs to make it easier. “You know, us old guys got bad wheels!”
Medical professionals also make the trip and assist veterans in getting through airports, on and off the bus and up and down ramps.
Even though he’s approaching 90, it was still the trip of a lifetime for Cox, a graduate of Madison High School in Rochester whose first teaching job was at Holley Central School in Orleans County. He then taught music for 16 years at Waterloo High School and a year at Newark before becoming a music professor at HWS.
He retired from the Colleges in 1986, the same year his wife Nancy – a longtime Waterloo music teacher – retired.
After high school, Cox spent two years at the Wesleyan Conservatory in Georgia before returning to Rochester in 1942 and enrolling at the Eastman School. Just two months later, he was drafted and served most of the war in the Pacific with the U.S. Army Signal Corps, a branch responsible for military communications. He was with a radar unit and eventually ended up in the Philippines and Manila, the site of the fiercest fighting in the Pacific theater during the war.
“It was a mess,” Cox said of the Filipino capital. “They called Manila the ‘Pearl of the Orient,’ but it was destroyed when I was there.”
Since it started in May of 2005, the Honor Flight Network has flown tens of thousands of veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam to see the memorials in the nation’s capital built in their honor. To date, nearly 40,000 veterans have made the trip.
“The funny thing is, I had never heard of it (Honor Flight) before,” Cox said. “But it was a great trip.”