Chester Cox joined the Army Air Corp in 1939 and soon became a B-17 pilot, first serving as a group operations officer for the 388 Bomb Group. One of his most important missions was being the first plane over the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day invasion of World War II. After being the lead plane on 25 missions, he was promoted to Colonel in 1945.
During the 1950s, Colonel Chester Cox was the commander of SAC’s North African Air Base in French Morocco. His next assignment brought him to Duluth, Minn., where he commanded the NORAD base. Next, Colonel Cox served as the commander at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska. There he experienced one of the worst earthquakes on record, when a quake struck Alaska at an 8.6.
Soon after being promoted to Brigadier General in 1964, General Cox was transferred to the Pentagon where he served as Director of Operations, National Military Command Center, Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Later that year, General Cox was diagnosed with a serious heart condition and doctors gave him only five years to live. After weighing his options, General Cox retired to spend more time with his family. He lived much longer than expected and had a career as a stockbroker and businessman. His wife of 58 years, Irene, passed away but Chester, a man who was not supposed to live more than a few years, remarried at 89 years old. Chester and Evelyn met at the assisted living home, “The Colony,” in Eden Prairie and fell in love.
Rated a command pilot, General Cox holds the Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the British Distinguished Flying Cross, the French Croix de Guerre, the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Distinguished Unit Medal with oak leaf cluster.
General Cox’s hometown is Virginia, Minn.
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