War is exactly the type of experience that can bond people together - as two U.S. Marines found when they promised to keep in touch for life.

Retired Marine Master Sgt. William H. Cox and Retired Marine First Sgt. James 'Hollie' Hollingsworth met on New Year's Eve, 1968 while they were trapped in a bunker during the Vietnam War.

The pair, who had been strangers serving in the Marine helicopter VMO-2, were shielding themselves from enemy fire while they were fighting in the Marble Mountains.

The two men pledged that if they survived the war, they would contact each other every New Year's Eve, and that's what they did for 50 years.

Earlier this year, Cox, 83, traveled from Piedmont, South Carolina to see Hollingsworth, 80, in Hephzibah, Georgia.

While Cox was there, a dying Hollingsworth asked his dear pal to make one last promise: stand guard over his casket and deliver the eulogy at his funeral.

"I said, 'Boy, that's a rough mission you're assigning me to there'," Cox told Greenvilleonline.com. Of course, though, he still accepted, keeping his final promise when Hollingsworth died months later. What a pal.

Hollingsworth's son shared a photo to Facebook showing the men catching up like old mates during Cox's visit in July.

"Two great Marines were reunited once again. These two flew over 200 missions on the same Huey in Vietnam," Hollingsworth's son wrote alongside the image.

"I have always been proud of my father and his service to our Country. Love hearing the stories from his closest friend."

The last thing Cox apparently told Hollingsworth was a phrase they often used to end their conversations - "Hollie, you keep 'em flying and I'll keep 'em firing."

Sure enough, Cox put on his Marines uniform and stood guard over Hollingsworth's casket during his funeral on 20 October.

He also delivered a heartfelt eulogy for Hollingsworth, ending with the same phrase: "Hollie, you keep 'em flying, and I'll keep 'em firing."

On Facebook, Cox's son, Bill Cox, shared a photo of the emotional moment Cox stood next to Hollingsworth's casket.

"My 83-year-old father, Master Sergeant William H.Cox, USMC, Retired, honoring one of his Vietnam brothers, First Sergeant James J. Hollingsworth (Hollie)," Bill captioned it.

"They made a pact to stay in touch, if they survived their tour, and they did. Both were door gunners, and Dad was the only enlisted man in VMO-2 to be awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) in Vietnam.

"He has to use a cane most of the time now, but he insisted on not using it during his vigil at the casket and at the funeral."

Since Bill shared the photo earlier this month it has now been shared thousands of times, winning the respect and admiration of many fellow Marines.

Cox said that his bond with Hollingsworth was not just usual service, considering him instead to be a "brother". Boys, we salute you.

Source: Daily Mail

Featured Image Credit: Facebook/Bill Cox

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