Navel Career of Everly Wayne Cox

Everly Cox's "Black Cat" and crew

Ev is standing, second from the right

I graduated from Ellensburg High School in June of 1938, and entered Central Washington College in Ellensburg, Washington in September of 1938.

In 1940 I signed up for the College Pilot Training (CPT) course, and through this I received my pilot’s license in the spring of 1941. I then enlisted in the Navy. This was at Sand Point Naval Air Station (NAS), Seattle, Washington, on July 13, 1941.

In November I was called to active duty and ordered to report to Sand Point NAS. I spent some time there, then a month in Dallas, Texas, where I did my flight training. I was commissioned an Ensign and earned my Navy wings in July, while still at Corpus Christie, and was ordered to San Diego NAS, California.

From San Diego I was ordered to San Francisco, where I boarded a troop transport ship named the USS Antigua. This was a Naval Reserve vessel. The passengers were all officers and we had lots of food. They set a good table for us when we dined.

We arrived in Hawaii on December 7, 1942. I was assigned to the headquarters squadron at first, and flew mail around the islands in an OS2U, a single engine plane.

I was then assigned to VP-71. This squadron flew PBY5’s. These are a big twin engine seaplane. They were what we called Sea Cats, and had no wheels.

IO performed flight duty on Midway, and then returned to Hawaii to re-form the squadron before we proceeded to the South Pacific. We were stationed at Halavo Beach, across from Guadalcanal. We lived in Quonset huts.

We flew what was called “the slot”, mostly in daylight, but with some night flights.

At this time I was first pilot. The Plane Commander was the boss, then the first pilot, then the co-pilot. My Plane Commander was the squadron Executive Officer, a man named Jonas.

I flew with this crew for several months, then one day I was ordered to take a plane to Espirito Santos to pick up parts. My commander informed me I was promoted to Plane Commander and this was my first flight in command. It was a very special day.

We were later relieved by another squadron, who switched planes with us, as their aircraft were in rough shape. We flew back to Kaneohe NAS, Hawaii in these planes. On final approach I had an engine quit, and there was fabric coming off of the elevators!

We were transported back to San Diego on a submarine tender, and again enjoyed some good meals.

I then had a few weeks of leave, back home in Ellensburg. Then it was back to San Diego to join VPB-71, a Scout Patrol Bomber squadron. I was skipper of a brand new PBY amphibian (identification E75), so had wheels now.

We flew to the Salton Sea in some borrowed PBYs for training. Among other things, we practiced landing at full stall speed, which made for some rough landings. We usually popped a bunch of rivets on these landings, and I once had a stream of water hitting me in the back.

The high salt content was hard on the planes, and the ground crews hosed them off with fresh water as soon as they got them ashore.

We were ordered to proceed to Kaneohe NAS, Hawaii and flew there in a 3 plane squadron. We all shot star sights and our calculated positions agreed to within 1 mile. My recollection is that this was a 13 hour flight, but this is much too low, as it is 2400 or more miles, and the “cats” didn’t cruise much above 100 knots.

One plane ran low on fuel, so we refueled at Volcano Island (a.k.a. the Big Island,)

We were sent to Midway. During several weeks of operations there we lost one squadron aircraft.

We were then ordered back to Kaneohe, Hawaii. I flew back as second in command in another aircraft that developed an engine oil leak. We had to shut down the engine and fly on a single engine for a considerable distance, only restarting the engine for the landing approach. I had to push the rudder pedal with considerable force for a long time, and my leg throbbed for a day after we landed.

We weren’t able to make it all the way to Kaneohe, so we landed on a small island and were picked up by a DC3, while the plane awaited an engine.

We re-grouped in Hawaii and were ordered to the Philippines. I was still flying aircraft E75.

The trip took several days. We went south and then looped back north. We lived on a small island, in tents for a while. One of our guys found a boa constrictor in his bed, and I got in the habit of checking my bed before turning in.

There was Japanese biplane we called “Washing Machine Charlie” that used to fly over at night, until one of our fighters shot it down. That was the end of that nuisance.

We were sent to New Guinea for some R&R. This was on Owi, where they had bulldozed the top 300 feet off the island to make a runway. We stayed in a house that had been built for MacArthur.

At one point I flew to another island for beer and coke and we loaded the plane to heavily we had to crawl over the cargo. Then we couldn’t get off the water until I sent everyone except the mechanic aft until I got airborne, then they had to crawl back over the cargo to stations.

We were then based on the Lingyan Gulf and flew night patrol to Formosa and the China Sea. With our planes painted black, we were one of the squadrons referred to as the “Black Cats.”

On one flight we tracked a battleship, but were ordered not to attack. On another flight we attacked a cruiser and dropped 3 bombs. I became disoriented, and had to have my co-pilot, T.V. Loran, take over for a while.

Our base then moved to Samar, before we were relieved. I flew “home” to Hawaii in an R5D transport aircraft.

Then it was another ride on a troopship from Honolulu to San Francisco. It wasn’t a bad trip, but got pretty rough near San Francisco.

I was then flown from San Francisco to San Diego. I was a full Lieutenant by now. I had leave to go home for a while and managed to wrangle a plane ride. I had ordered a new uniform, but didn’t have time to pick it up. A friend came running out to the plane with the uniform as I was boarding.

After my leave, I was assigned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, WA, as a flight instructor. I was there for VJ day, and that was a big celebration.

Later, I bought a new 1946 Pontiac from Al Hicks dealership in Kirkland, Washington and drove it back to Sand Point NAS in Seattle.

I had enough points to get out early. They were setting up a discharge center in downtown Seattle, in the Federal Office Building. I got a $500 bonus for each year I had served.

I entered the inactive reserve and drove back to Ellensburg to finish college. I felt cold for a couple of years, after all the time in the tropics.

In 1948 I went into the active reserve. I was flying PBYs and DC3s then.

In June of 1948 I went back on active duty. I spent 1948-1949 in San Diego flying in a Naval Transport Squadron, then 1949-1950 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington and Sand Point Naval Air Station, Seattle, in VR-5 transport squadron.

In March of 1950 I was released from active duty. I stayed in the reserves, flying Privateers ( a single-tailed navy version of the B-24), and Lockheed P2-V Neptunes.

I retired from the Navy in 1973.

Awards received:

Distinguished Flying Cross
3 Air Medals plus ribbons for areas served
Squadron citations

My total flying time is just under 4,000 hours.

Military Career of Captain Everly Wayne Cox, USNR Ret.