96-year-old WWII veteran to be keynote speaker at Memorial Day event at Camp Nelson

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - On Monday Camp Nelson National Cemetery will hold its annual Memorial Day events.

This year it will honor the men and women who served in world war two because this December will mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944.

On Monday the keynote speaker is a 96-year-old central Kentuckian who remembers every second of that cold and deadly battle of the war.

He might be a little slower in pace, but his workload certainly doesn't reflect it.

Every day, just like clockwork Captain Walter Cox shows up to office.

"I came out of retirement. I tried retirement and played golf every day and I didn't like it, so I decided to go back to work," said Captain Walter Cox.

At 96 years young Cox is the man to talk to about a trust or a will.

An attorney for most of his career he opened his own practice focusing on this line of work in 2004, he says it keeps him young.

"Well my advice to everybody is to keep working. I think that's what has kept me alive. You gotta exercise your brain as well as your body," said Cox.

Cox is the keynote speaker this Memorial Day at Camp Nelson.

If you ask him about the honor, his sense of humor is evident.

"I think I'm probably the oldest one they knew about and could still get up and stand up and speak," said Cox.

It’s been more than seven decades since Cox was called into duty as a UK ROTC student.

It was in April of 1943 Cox received the call to head to basic training.

That next year he was sent with the 70th Infantry arriving in France ahead of one of the greatest battles of World War II.

"We were en route in our 40 & 8's when the Battle of the Bulge started and it started further north so it was going on while we were en route up to Strausberg," said Cox.

He and his men arrived Christmas Day 1944, he recalls what he told his men as if it were yesterday.

"I believed the lord was going to take care of us, I told my men, I had 40 men I was the platoon leader.

On Christmas Day I took them to the church there, a little Catholic church in the town of Bischwiller, France and I told them all their job was to protect themselves as well as kill all the Germans," said Cox.

Cox and his men fought in some of the most brutal conditions, the cold and snow just another enemy in itself.

"Shoes were the main things, your feet would freeze if you didn't take off your shoes and change your socks. Your buddy, you always have a buddy with you and he massages your feet and gets the feeling back in them and you put on the warm socks," said Cox.

In January Cox and his men succeeded in stopping the Germans and freed several prisoners.

AT 22-years-old he and his men earned a Battalion Citation from the President.

"A lot of people died, a lot of people. I'm lucky, like I write in my book, do doubt I Love My Angel because I know I was protected by an angel," said Cox.

Cox went on to attain the rank of Captain, serve in the JAG Corp. and eventually return home to the Bluegrass to start a family and his career outside of the military.

He has written his life story down in this book, I Love My Angel, a way to preserve the memories of his 96 years.

There aren't many left of his generation, so maybe it’s why he is still hard at work, a way to honor those that didn't the get chance to be here with him celebrating Memorial Day 75 years later.

"It's a great honor and given my age and given my health the Lord has blessed me and I thank him for it," said Cox.

Captain Cox says he spent 40 months in the U.S. Army serving our country.

Camp Nelson National Cemetery and the Central Kentucky Veterans Committee will hold its Memorial Day Ceremony at 11 on Monday.

The event is free and open to the public.

December 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge.

During the one hour ceremony and weather permitting there will be a military fly-over of a restored Mitchell B-25 bomber, one of less than 10 still flying.



 
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