14 September 2009

Spc. Daniel L. Cox


"I thought they had the wrong house" - father of Parsons soldier killed in Afghanistan

JORDAN AUBEY and NINA CRISCUOLO contributed to this story

"I thought they had the wrong house," Kim Cox, the father of Daniel Cox, told us. "There were two Army informant officers and a Parsons police officer."

Daniel Lee Cox, 23, a Parsons High School graduate, was killed in a weekend attack by enemy forces in Afghanistan.

News of Daniel Cox's death brings numbness to his parents. For friends, it's a remberance of the good times.

"We were in the mall over in Joplin one time,'" says friend Jordan McRay, "and he got, like an orange julius, and the girl was like 'can I keep the change?' He was like 'can I get your number?'"

Cox, 23, was approaching his fifth year as a soldier in the Army.

"The order and all that good stuff, and the ability to actually be who he was and the desire to take the fight to the other person was really what got him to sign up for his mountain infantry and all the good stuff," says Matthew Burks, another friend.

It was good and exciting for Cox, until the signs of battle began leaving noticable scars.

"It was after his first or second tour that when he came back, you could just tell, you could see it in his face, you could just see the stress," says McRay. "It's almost like instead of aging three or four years, he aged ten or 15."

"It's very difficult to get who you were out of the other experiences," says Burks. "It kind of smothers who you start out as."

Cox was paying the price of being a soldier.

Now he has made the ultimate sacrifice but his dedication will never be forgotten.

"He was a hero," says his mother, Sharon. "Definitely a hero. A good-hearted person."

On Saturday, Matthew Burks planned on getting married, but as it stands now, he will be Cox's pallbearer the day before.

"He was severely disappointed that he wasn't going to be home for my wedding," Burks told us. "But, he isn't going to miss it now."

Cox was a student at Parsons High School and graduated in 2005.

He enjoyed working with his hands and football, but he dreamed of being part of the 10th Mountain Division.

Teachers Diana Brenn and Mark Pound are morning the loss after just receiving the news of his death on Monday.

"I thought I could get through the day," says Mark Pound, who is a coach at Parsons. "I'll be alright. I just feel for Daniel's family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them."

"I couldn't believe it," says Diana Brenn. "I couldn't believe because, that just didn't like something we would ever hear about him."

Teachers say Cox decided to join the Army during his senior year at Parsons High School.

"He went to our football coach and he had him make out a plan to work out so that he could go into boot camp and be strong at boot camp," Brenn says. "He followed that plan and he was very anxious and excited about going into the military."

"He came back to school once, after he finished his training with them, and you've never seen a prouder person," Pound says. "And he was proud to go to Afghanistan. He told me when he was going."

Teachers say comfort still lies in knowing Cox was doing exactly what he wanted to do.

"He was never afraid - he wasn't afraid of it at all," says Brenn. "Matter of fact, he had an attitude that he was going to go over there and he was going to take care of business."

Cox was killed Saturday afternoon after enemy forces attacked his patrol vehicle when it struck an explosive device.

The Army is investigating the incident that also killed one other solider.

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