DENTAC bids farewell to commander
Col. Marshall Cox, outgoing DENTAC commander, shares stories of his military experience during a change of command and retirement ceremony Aug. 22 at Ware Parade Field. Cox retired after more than 30 years of military service. Photo by: Tywanna Sparks, IACH.
Story by: Tywanna Sparks
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Family, friends and comrades of Col. Marshall Cox, former commander, Fort Riley U.S. Army Dental Activity celebrated more than 30 years of military service during a change of command and retirement ceremony Aug. 22 at Ware Parade Field.
Cox served as commander of Fort Riley DENTAC for four years and shared his military history and fondness for the Army with the audience.
"What a lot of people don't know I graduated and was commissioned in 1969," he said. "I was on my way to Vietnam as field artillery. They gave me a little test – you know, you have to have a little math skills. They found out I can only count to 32, so they sent me to dental school."
Cox served from 1969 to 1980 and departed active-duty military service to pursue civilian dentistry. He owned and supervised a Family general dentistry in Dallas.
Cox attributed his break in service to poor leadership.
"Sometimes it takes a poor leader to make you understand what good leadership is all about," he said. "I was influenced by a poor leader in the 70s who convinced me that the Army and its style of leadership weren't for me and my Family."
After leaving the Army, Cox made a promise that if he were ever given the opportunity to lead someone, he would try his best to get to know that person, allocate unbiased direction and guidance, and make sure he was having fun while doing it.
That time came again in 1990 when he re-entered the Army.
"I've learned over the years, leadership is a learned skill which comes from reading and having mentors old and young. Leadership is knowing people that support and work their butts off for you; not standing around waiting for someone to do a job but pitching in and doing the hard work together and being an example."
After re-entering the Army, Cox served in various assignments to include Panama; Korea; Fort Huachuca, Ariz.; Germany; West Point, N.Y.; Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; and his final assignment at Fort Riley.
Leaving the Army will not be easy, he explained to all in attendance.
"After many beginnings and endings, this represents Pam and my ending of Army life and the beginning of a new life as retirees. I guarantee we are both sad and hesitant to leave this way of life and all the friends who have blessed us over 35 years."
He concluded by thanking everyone who contributed to his growth throughout his military career and advised the new commander, Lt. Col. Robert Cronyn, to take good care of the mission and troops.
Cox is married to the former Pamela Jean Brannen of Fort Worth, Texas. They have two children, Todd Brandon and Tiffany Beth Irwin; and one granddaughter, Hayley. Cox and his wife plan to retire in Texas.