Staff Sergeant Kenneth A. Cox
Aerial Combat Photographer
Killed in Action, 18 Jan 1945
Kenneth A. Cox had volunteered to be a combat cameraman and was sent for training at the First Motion Picture Unit, in the Hal Roach Studios in Culver City, California. He was assigned to the 16th Combat Camera Unit when it was formed, the first week of May 1943. Prior to departing for overseas duty on 21 July, he completed training with standard and motion picture cameras, as well as aerial gunnery, and had been designated as an Aerial Combat Photographer.
After traveling by foot, train, ship, more trains, river steamer, trucks and airplanes he, and arrived at Kunming, China, on the 25th of September 1943, along with the majority of the 16th CCU personnel. After assisting in getting the Unit settled into their labs and offices, as well as getting himself settled, his first assignment came on 29 November. He was the ranking enlisted in a team of five charged with taking a truck and documenting the ground route used to supply the USAAF units and the Chinese Army forces in the area of Kweilin, China.
Kenneth Cox performed excellently on this task, completed in exactly thirty days, as well as several other assignments during the next twelve months. Then came a day when things did not go so well.
On 18 January 1945 four B-25s of the 11th Bomb Squadron departed from Yangkai, China, ecorted by ten P-40's from the 17th and 27th Fighter Squadrons. They flew to Puchi, China and attacked the railroad bridge, with limited success, using a new, low-level bombing method, melding glide and skip bombing techniques. They had been briefed to return together to Chihkiang to refuel, and when they encountered solid cloud cover on the way back they became separated. About 1520 hours all had landed at Chihkiang and were refueling, except the plane piloted by 1st Lieutenant John J. Wise.
Due to poor radio contact 1st Lt. John J. Wise had been unable to contact the other ships in the flight after the bomb runs had been completed. He returned to Chihkiang quite some time behind, and was also unable to contact the tower by radio. He made a "hot" approach and landed long, about three-quarters of the way down the main runway. Unable to stop in time, his aircraft ran off the end of the runway and dropped down a 60 foot precipice. It broke up, exploded and burned.
Four of the crew survived the crash and fire, but Sergeant Kenneth Cox, 1st Lieutenant Buster P. Meadows (copilot) and Staff Sergeant Charles G. Edelman (engineer-gunner) died as a result of injuries they had received.