Cox, Onnie N. (825th)

Onnie N. Cox 1Onnie N. Cox

Biography:  Onnie Niles Cox was born on July 20, 1920, in Kingsport, Tennessee. He was the son of James Madison Cox and Julia Frances Brown and attended the Glendale School through the grammar level. His enlistment record indicates that he worked as a truck, tractor, taxi or bus driver.

On December 11, 1941, Onnie married the former Martha Mae Salyers who was born in Nickelsville, Virginia, and was the daughter of Billy Salyers and Ellen Cifers. The new couple would make their home in Nickelsville, VA.

Service Time:  Onnie entered the service on September 10, 1942, at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. After his basic training, he was assigned to the Headquarters  Company of the 825th Tank Destroyer Battalion and continued his training with them at various military facilities, including Camp Hood, Texas, and briefly at Camp Phillips, Kansas, before shipping to Devils Lake, North Dakota, to assist with the record wheat harvest.

They participated in the Tennessee maneuvers from November 9, 1943, to January 15, 1944, before moving to Camp Campbell, Kentucky, and then Camp Breckenridge, KY. It was from there that they boarded trains for movement to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, to make final preparations for the trip overseas. They shipped out from the New York port on May 30, arriving in England on June 5th.

On July 30th, the men finally went ashore at Utah Beach in Normandy, France. The unit was assigned to the Communications Zone and 12th Army Group security duties between August and December, 1944, and on December 17th, the battalion entered combat near Malmedy, Belgium. On January 16, 1945, they returned to security duties.

The unit received credit for the campaigns of Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. Onnie left the service at the rank of Sergeant.

Once back in the U.S, Onnie went to work for the Eastman Chemical Company. The family made their home in Boones Creek, Tennessee, and the family grew as they had a son, Gerald and later, a daughter Peggy. In his spare time, Onnie enjoyed fishing and camping. He passed away on March 28, 1999, and was buried in the East lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Kingsport, TN. 

Onnie N. Cox 2I want to thank Onnie’s daughter Peggy for providing the information and main photo used in this tribute. Thank you also to Find A Grave contributor TMF for the use of the grave marker image and to Serge Lemaire for his continued research to honor these men.