Walter "Skip" Frick Cox

As Interviewed by Miloni Patel, March 20, 2017

Walter "Skip" Frick Cox: In His Own Words

This is Walter “Skip” Frick Cox talking about his personal and family lifestyle and experiences in the military.

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Everyday responsibilities like on a normal duty day I would get up at 5 o'clock in the morning, get into my physical training uniform, and then usually report to the post by 5:45, and then we would usually have some sort of a leaders meeting at 6:00 that would talk about what the training schedule was for the day. At 6:30 we would do physical training which would last for a hour, and that would be anything from going to an obstacle course, and going through that to just doing a run or a road march with a rucksack, that kind of stuff, that would last for an hour. After that we would have 30 minutes to get ready for regular duty, and then come back and do whatever was on the training schedule, So depending on what time of year it was or where we were we would be out on the field doing training for a combat mission, or we would be doing maintenance on our vehicles, maintenance on our weapons, that kind of stuff. And usually around 6 pm was when the day would end and we would head home.
So the disadvantages are that obviously you are training to be called to fight so if the army says, “Hey guess what we are going to Afghanistan for a year”, then you load up on a plane and go to Afghanistan for a year, at the risk of your life sometimes. The benefits are that you are with a very dedicated group of people who very much believe in what they're doing. You develop a mindset that you have to get the mission done no matter what the obstacles are. You have people who are very focused on completing the mission as best as they can no matter what.
I had a hard time when I got out of the army because I would go to work, and I worked as a site manager for a construction company, that was my first job I had when I got out of the army. It would be a little cold and people would be like, “I’m not going to go up on the roof today it’s too cold. I’m not going to go do that work today. It’s too hot so we are going to leave halfway through the day”. The whole idea that we are supposed to do ‘x’ number of hours of work today, but you’re not going to do it because it's too hot, or too cold, or to rainy, or whatever, was something I had a hard time dealing with.

Skip Cox talks about his experience in Ranger School, which is a training school that is physically and mentally grueling.

Ranger School, which is a leadership school that lasts for 62 days, and it’s incredibly hard, I think I lost 30 pounds over the course of those 60-62 days. You are getting very little sleep, getting very little to eat, you’re being asked to constantly take responsibility for the mission and for the soldiers around you. So it’s very, very hard. You don’t get to speak to your family, every 25 days or so you could make a phone call. So that would be one of the worst experiences, but in some ways also the best, because it was incredibly satisfying once it was finished. To know that you’ve gone through something that only maybe 45% of the people who started it have finished, and have been tested to learn about yourself and your limitations. That is something that is very rewarding, it’s difficult but also rewarding.

Skip Cox talks about a story his grandfather, who was an officer in World War 2, told him.

So I remember this one story he told me, doing training in Pennsylvania, ready to go to Europe. This was in 1942 or 43. They were maneuvering through a summer field. Sometimes it’s hard to make soldiers do the right thing when its training, because it's hard to get the sense that this is real and this is important. And one of those things is when you tell a soldier to crawl 300 feet across a field, because if there were really bullets flying, then they would have to crawl so they wouldn’t get shot. So I remember him telling me this, he was very impressed because the soldiers were all crawling so diligently, and on the other side of the field they all stood up and they had red stains around their fingers and their hands. And he was like, “What is going on?”. Well they had been crawling through a strawberry field, so they were all stopping for strawberries as they crawled through the field.
Fear is a funny thing for a soldier. They’re times that you can be more frightened when the bullets aren’t flying, then you are when the bullets are flying. When the bullets are flying you can be like, I have a job to do, everybody is depending on me to do the job, and we all have to work together to get it done, or we’re all going to fail,
The army depends on people who are willing to put the uniform on, and are willing to train and train hard, to perform a very difficult and sometimes dangerous job, and who are willing to when the country calls for it, go away from their homes and go away from their families, and possibly risk their lives to fight for what our country feels is important. And just to be able to do that on a day to day basis, is an accomplishment in another self.

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