Lt. Robert Cox's Photos
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
Lt. Cox received specialty training in Orlando and North Island where he got to use some new USMC patriotic stationery.
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."
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
him to make sketches of the target areas for the pilots to take on
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.
This site was last updated 11/26/07