Lt. Robert Cox's Photos


Sgt. Geo 'Press' Adams
Sgt. JD Baribault
Sgt. Dan Daniels
Sgt. Tom Eldridge
Sgt. Charlie Hoke
Sgt. Ed Martin
Sgt. Eddie Seamands
Sgt. Con Ward
Lt. Robert Cox
Lt. Thomas Faull
Lt. Dan Githens
Lt. Billy Hay
Lt. Harry Knickelbein
Lt. Jack Lally
Lt. Lally. p.2
Lt. Ed Leidecker
Lt. Fritz Liebich
Lt. KO Misamore
Capt. Bill Patterson
Capt. Patterson, p.2
Capt. Casey Stalnaker
Capt. Casey Stalnaker, p2
Capt. Morgan Webb
Lt. Frank Whalen
Capt. John Worlund
National Archives


Some of Lt. Cox's early days in the Marines were spent in the Aviation Ground Officer's School (AGOS) at Quantico. The roster included Alex Raymond with whom Lt. Cox became good friends as both were in their mid-30s, married and had 3 children.  Several Raymond-related images from Lt. Cox's scrapbook are posted on the Alex Raymond page.

Swearing in ceremony April 1944.

Nice studio portrait of Lt. Cox, Aug '44.

AGOS roster. Lt Cox points out his friend Alex Raymond.

Lounging at the barracks.

Near the rifle range.

'A' Barracks - home away from home.

Lt. Cox received specialty training in Orlando and North Island where he got to use some new USMC patriotic stationery.

Lt Cox's envelope.

envelope back.

New writing paper.

Another version.

Lt. Cox was based at Santa Barbara with the squadron for several months 1944-45.  A scrapbook notes says "About 1 Jan. 1945 the squadron received orders to go aboard one of the big Navy carriers to support an amphibious landing (Iwo Jima).  Irene rushed out to Santa Barbara - our orders were cancelled - we had the 3 girls come out."

Lt. Cox sports his new flight jacket with early VMTB-143 patch design.


Nice shot of the rocket stubs and radar.

Fishing with pals.

A relaxing outing.

Santa Barbara harbor

The El Paseo was a popular hangout. It 's got an open roof and looks much the same today.

Santa Barbara has some nice beaches.

Bob and Irene out to dinner Jan 45.

With daughters Bettie Lu, Ann(right) and Carol(front)

Everyone enjoyed their visit to Santa Barbara.

In early February 1945 the squadron was sent to North Island for training in anti-sub bombing... several of the pilot photo galleries have bombing photos.  Lt. Cox has a few pictures from this exercise. 

The crowded flight line.

One of the squadron's TBMs.

Nice air-to-air shot.

TBM pilots Dan Githens and 'Monty' Montgomery.

Close up from prior photo.

Here are some notes and clippings from Lt. Cox's scrapbooks about his experiences on the carrier.  In late February VMTB-143 was assigned to the USS Gilbert Islands and ordered to join her  "wherever that ship may be."  They boarded March 6 in San Diego.  The color photos are from a brochure endorsed by Lt. Cox as typical of his carrier. The serial numbers on his 2 rescue flags are within a few of the ones I've seen for the pilots.  They must have been issued to VMTB-143 in sequentially numbered packets.

Formal orders finally arrive.

Orders, page 2.

Capt. Reed reports the squadron came aboard March 6.

Alex Raymond's presence is just being announced.

Life aboard the carrier.

Breakfast was good.

Interesting summary after 5 months at war, probably covers April-August.

Flight director.

The vets I talked to admired the skill and efficiency of the plane handlers.

Shellback card - you only want to go through the ceremony once!

Humor on the destroyer picket line.

Shortages sometimes happened... this one is for soap.

Formal censorship ends Sept 4. No one else had to read your mail anymore.

Lt. Cox's silk rescue flag.

His American flag.

Lt. Cox wrote in his scrapbook that his VMTB-143 Ready Room was well thought of by upper brass.  He was directed to have pictures taken and sent to his superiors.  Thankfully a few of the details were preserved and can be shown here.  Lt. Cox noted his working desk was hand-made by Navy welders to his specifications. His clerk was Sgt. Thomas J. Ryan who typed the reports and generally shared this small space.  There was a pull down screen at the front of the Ready Room for showing recon films from the F6Fs and Hollywood movies. The men liked to hang out here playing cards, chess or just reading partly because it was the only air-conditioned space available to them.

His office was attached to the Ready Room.

Lt. Cox at the desk.

Posing somewhere in the office.

Wide angle view of the Ready Room. Note a/c unit at top.

TBMs 77, 78, 87 and 86 are called out for this flight. Bottom right is probably a code.

Recognition signals and flare colors changed every 3 hours.

Weather conditions and radio frequencies.

Status note.

Position and weather status boards.

Pilot/plane assignments. 'LASP'= local area sub patrol.

Lt.(jg) Bassman was another lawyer from Oklahoma on the USS GI.  What are the odds?  Since Lt. Cox was the Intel officer he spent a lot of time studying photos and maps of the various target areas.  He saved some and they're shown in the next few photo galleries.   Most of these I've only seen in Lt. Cox's scrapbooks.  The handwritten notes are his and I thought it informative to leave them in.  Here are a few from the May attacks on Okinawa. 

VMTB-143 dropped supplies to a group of surrounded men.

The Intel officer gets first look.

Naha, the main city, was flattened.

The Sakishima Islands were attacked next, June 1-16.  The target grid maps are 8" x 10" photos in Lt. Cox's scrapbooks.  I can't show many details on the map as the file would be too large so I picked out a few details to illustrate the nice quality.  On June 16 a contingent of TBMs was sent to Okinawa to take part in a raid on Kyushu but bad weather forced them to attack the seaplane base at Amami O Shima instead.  Squadrons from the USS Block Island participated too and planes from both carriers are shown in the last photo.

Ishigaki Island grid map

Hegina airfield.

Hegina detail - note planes and craters.

Hirara field grid map.

Hirara field.

Hirara detail - radio station.

Ishigaki field grid map.

Ishigaki field details - keys in next photo.

Key to map markings.

Miyara air field.

Nobara airfield

Nobara detail

Ishigaki town.

High ridges were a good spot for the AA gunners defending the airfields.

Corsair at top.

F4U probably from VMF-512.

AA guns were effectively hidden in the hills.

A 'well-done' note from HQ June 18

Photos from the June 16 raid.

After the Sakishima raids the carrier was sent to Leyte Gulf. The planes flew to the large airbase at Tacloban and Samar Island became the home base for a few weeks.  Here are some images from Lt Cox's books.

Leyte Gulf

San Pedro Bay became a large US anchorage.

The area around Tacloban was peppered with airfields.

Dozens of ships at anchor.

A Model Home!

The stay at San Pedro Bay was interrupted by orders to sail south.   The Australians attacked Balikpapan, Borneo about July 1 and Task Group 78.4 consisting of the CVEs USS Block Island, USS Suwannee and USS Gilbert Islands, along with 6 DD and DE escorts was sent to provide air cover and close air support. 

Balikpapan is at the center.

This Air Ops chart was Top Secret at the time.

Here's a magnetic view of the Makassar Strait.

Magnetic detail in the target area.

Air-to-air photo of P78

The main attack occured along the highway.

Bomb explosions.

Manggar airfield got attacked too.

Lt. Cox saved a few cartoons from his days at the USMC base in Santa Barbara and on the carrier.  In the first 2 a Navy Captain is humorously sizing up the Marines of VMTB-132, another TBM squadron destined for CVE duty.  The other sketches are from the USS Gilbert Islands.  Several are attributed to Sgt. Phil Miller, a good artist.  Lt. Cox says he sometimes asked him to make sketches of the target areas for the pilots to take on bombing missions.

These are Marines??

Flog them 'til their morale improves.

Refers to the small horses living on the Sakishima Islands.

Tha tall and lanky Lt. Montgomery sketched by Sgt. Miller.

Sgt. Benedetti was the lead NCO in VMTB-143.

Lt. Cox needs more work from Sgt. Ryan!

Only true secrets are passed along here.

After the Japanese surrender everyone wanted to go home as fast as possible.  Lt. Cox was among the first to be released since he was over 35.  It appears that his trip was very much a catch-as-catch-can affair, with subterfuge.   Lt. Cox traveled with Capt. Reed the squadron adjutant and together they made a rather unusual journey.  Lt. Cox saved a number of documents and wrote some notes about the hectic nature of the trip. 

Sept 12 - points and age are defined for the Marines.

Of course there's humor in every thing.

Lt Cox's orders home dated Sept 23.

Lt. Cox explains the ordeal of getting to Hawaii.

Telegram sent home Oct 1 from Hawaii.

Lt. Cox explains how they got aboard the USS Arkansas.

At last they reach Seattle Oct 14.

Homecoming as seen in the Seattle Times Oct 21.

Oct 16 from Seattle. The anticipation of arriving home is evident.

Oct 21. At last Lt. Cox can leave Seattle for the train trip to Oklahoma City.

Seattle to Portland to Denver to Oklahoma City. The train must have seemed so slow.

The local paper announces Lt. Cox's safe arrival.

Reunited at last, Oklahoma City, Nov. 1945.

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This site was last updated 11/26/07