Martin C. “Joe” Cox
A New Zealander, Joe served with Victor Company, RNZIR in 1967 followed by service in Vietnam with Whiskey Company, in 1968/1969. This photograph was taken in Vietnam when he was 19 and was originally attached to his poem “Sentinels” which was written in 2000 and which was originally sent to Victor Company while that Company was serving in East Timor during the Peace Keeping Mission.
Joe enlisted in the New Zealand Army in 1964 and served in Malaysia (1965 – 1967), which included active service in Borneo. In 1967, he returned to New Zealand for six months before returning to Singapore and then to Vietnam. He remained in the Army until 1984 after serving 20 years during which he held numerous infantry training positions.
We stood guard in dawn’s early light.
Sharp eyes pierced the dark looking for movement that should not be.
Ears pricked to catch the noise that should not be.
Through rain, mud, swollen stream, baked earth we walked.
Ragged clothes hanging from tired bodies;
Sharp alert minds looking for sign that should not be
A rifle was our constant companion:
awake or asleep never far from an outstretched hand.
For we are the Sentinels of yesterday
sworn to protect those who could not do so for themselves.
We stood in those nameless places
where our brothers in arms had stood before us.
WE COULD NOT FALTER.
“Sleep in peace brothers.” was our call
in the knowledge that we were there to guard the night
and prevent that which should not be.
Today, you have taken over our duty…
It is our turn to sleep.
©Copyright 2000 by Martin C. Cox