Every day for over 25 years, Thomas Lester Cox got up and put on the uniform of the United States Navy.
Thomas Cox was born on July 31, 1882, in New York City. Cox joined the U.S. Navy out of a sense of duty to his country, and to his family. Prior to his career as a Chief Aviation Machinist’s Mate, he married May Miller, and was a devoted husband. Together, they raised three beautiful daughters, Dorothy, Esther, and Nancy – all of whom attended Coronado High School in the 1940’s. Cox instilled a love of country and loyalty to the flag in his family.
During his Naval career, he was stationed first in the Philippines and then transferred to Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado. While at North Island, Cox had a minimal daily commute, from 936 I Avenue to the base.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, airplanes were sent overseas regularly from the base to assist in the campaign. Chief Cox oversaw the planes’ maintenance and was responsible for testing the planes’ engines, fuel systems, propellers, and more. In doing so, he kept the war machine moving, the airplanes up in the air, and provided safety for the pilots and crew who flew the missions.
Thomas Cox followed through with his part in the war effort honorably and with incredible dedication. Cox’s daughters, Dorothy, Esther, and Nancy were active in school and known for their patriotism, spirit, energy, and zest for life. They all played a positive role in the lives of their fellow students during the war years.
Thomas Cox was proud of his daughters and eventually took equal pride in being called ‘Grandpa’ by his eight grandchildren: Gail, Loren, Kathy, Nancy, Tommie, Mattie, Tommy, and Jimmy. Cox was a shining example of the importance of giving back to the community, love of country, and service. Thomas Cox was not a POW, he didn’t receive the Medal of Honor, or a Distinguished Flying Cross. Instead, he humbly, quietly, and reverently spent a lifetime in the Navy. Thomas passed away February 10, 1955, at the age of 72. He is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.