Chief Cox

18 08 2013

Not long ago, I got word that a friend of mine had passed away. Chief Ron Cox was not just a friend, he was also, for a while at least, my supervisor while serving in the Coast Guard and stationed at the USCG Air Station in Elizabeth City. Chief Cox was, or at least he cast the appearance of being, a very serious person who defined stoicism, but one who did not take the world too seriously. He was also a very fair-minded boss who was fun to work for. He had the rare ability to give you an unpleasant assignment and make you not mind doing it. I was recently thinking about Chief Cox when I remembered this story which I think is not only an apt description, but, also, one which you might enjoy.

 

My good friend and fellow former Coastie , Richie Boyd, and I had spent the afternoon flying. In order to maintain your flight status and continue to qualify for monthly flight pay, we were required to fly a minimum number of hours each month. So, one day, realizing we were both in need of a little flight time, we jumped on whatever mission was available. I don’t recall what the trip was-probably some mundane training flight practicing touch-and-goes at some obscure airport in eastern North Carolina. Regardless, together, Richie and I were a recipe for trouble because alone, I submit with at least a modicum of pride, we were each a mere notch below world-class pranksters. The world was our target and like a shark cruising the surf, we were always on the lookout for a next target. It was our way of telling the world to lay back and enjoy the moment.ECity

It was about 5:30 PM by the time we returned to the hangar where we worked when we weren’t flying. Everyone had left for the day so the hangar was ours. We were free to do whatever we could conjure up in our twisted minds.

 

There was a sink in the office with a can of hand soap on a shelf directly above. The soap had the same consistency and color as the grease we used to grease the flap tracks on the C-130s we maintained.

 

Now, I’m foggy on the details of who actually did what, but it was a definitely a joint effort. We emptied the soap can and filled it with flap grease. Our thinking was the rest of the crew would come in to work the following day and fall victim to our brainstorm. What we didn’t know was, Chief Cox had also been out flying that afternoon and as we were walking toward the door to go home, he came in. Neither of us said a word as we watched Chief Cox go to the sink in the office and begin to wash up. The last thing I recall seeing was Chief Cox reaching deep into the soap can. It was at that point, Richie and I began to run from the hangar. Neither of us wanted to be left alone with Chief Cox when he realized he was the latest victim of the Boyd-Taylor torture tandem.

 

Chief Cox was well aware of our reputations and always turned a blind eye with a hidden grin. I believe he enjoyed watching as we pulled one over on the crew nearly each day. But how would he react to being the victim?

 

Well, the next day when I came in to work, I walked by Chief Cox while sitting at his desk. At first his look was stern but then one corner of his mouth came up into a slight grin with a look as if to say, “Well played.” 

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