Malcolm R. Cox, Jr.

NO. 17921  •  

Died in a POW Camp April 21, 1951 in North Korea. Interment is unknown.


ON THE COLD, OVERCAST MORNING of 21 Apr 1951, Malcolm Robert "Bob" Cox, Jr., was found dead by his fellow prisoners of war in a horrific Red Chinese prison camp called the Bean Camp. Starvation, cold, and pleurisy had taken their toll on a young and promising life. Bob did not even live long enough to see his little son because of the sudden intervention of war into his life.

Ten months earlier, Bob had marched with his class on the Plain at West Point in his graduation parade. That June day was bright and sunny, like a typical day in his hometown of Carmel, CA. It was a day filled with excitement, hope, and celebration. The future seemed so full of promise. For Bob, he would be following the military tradition of his family. None of us foresaw the clouds of war that would darken the perfect sky just barely weeks after graduation. We could not foresee the invasion of South Korea by Communist forces from the north, or how that invasion would impact so many lives.

Our classmate, John Watson, also a POW and a dear friend of Bob's, helped bury Bob on a hillside outside the Bean Camp where many other POWs were buried. Somehow, Bob had sensed that he might die in prison camp, and he often spoke to John about his family. When John returned to the States in 1953, after his release from prison camp, he kept the promise he made to Bob. John visited Bob's wife, Gwen, and their son in New York City, providing the sad but firsthand information about how Bob died and his concern for his wife and child.

John remembers Bob as "a brave man, a true friend and a loyal classmate." Another classmate adds that he remembers Bob as a friendly person "who withstood the rigors of Beast Barracks easily." Two of his roommates recall that for Bob, the West Point motto of Duty, Honor Country was an "azimuth" directing Bob's course. For Bob, there were no shades blurring what was the right direction for him - to become an officer and soldier in the best tradition of West Point. The Army was his dedicated goal.

It was the fate of the Class of '50 to go directly to active units without learning skills at basic branch courses. In late June, Bob and several other classmates went to Japan. Bob joined a 105mm Howitzer unit, the 49th Field Artillery Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division - soon deployed from Japan to Pusan, South Korea. Bob participated with his unit in the landing at Inchon. He returned to Pusan and then participated in another landing at lwon. The next operation was the attack north to the Yalu, where he and John Watson ate Thanksgiving dinner together in November 1950 near the Manchurian border at Hyesanjin. It was Bob's 26th birthday. The war seemed over; however, large Chinese force s were poised to intervene.

After the Red Chinese attacked, Bob’s unit deployed to Pusan for refitting and replacement equipment. His unit soon moved forward again. In February 1951, Bob was attached as a forward observer to a South Korean Infantry unit supported by US artillery. When the Chinese overran the Korean unit, they captured Bob - whose observation post was located on vulnerable high ground near Hoengsong, well forward of the Korean Infantry. The date of his capture was 11 Feb 1951. Bob would live only 69 more days in Chinese captivity.

After their capture, the prisoners were marched northward at night, over treacherous mountain trails. The conditions were horrendous, the food was meager, medical care was nonexistent, and strafing by the US Air Force was frequent. The weather was adverse – rain, mud, and snow. Soon, prisoners began to die from beriberi, dysentery, and starvation.

Arriving at the Bean Camp, the prisoners faced even worse conditions. The water was polluted, and the food was scarce. Prisoners died every day. When Bob became sick, he asked John to tell his wife that he loved her.

Now - almost five decades later- as we remember Bob, our hearts are deeply touched by his sacrifice. We should have written sooner, but it has been hard to face the reality of death in one so young. Bob, we say to you that we love you. We remember you as a brave man, a true friend, and a loyal classmate.

- Leo Romaneski, classmate