9th region

SOLDIER STORIES: My choice, my life.

Cpl. Dennis Cox, a New York City native and scout sniper with 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regional Command (Southwest), finishes of a foot patrol at the end of an interdiction operation in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Dec. 19, 2013. Cox has been in the Marine Corps for 5 years and is completing his third deployment.

(Photo by Corporal Austin Long, interview by Corporal Paul Peterson, 3 JAN 2014.)

Cpl. Dennis Cox: Scout Sniper 
This is Cox’s third deployment and his second to Afghanistan. The New York City native enlisted at the age of 18, inspired in part by the events of 9/11. He left for his first deployment as a rifleman. At the age of 24, he’s returned to Afghanistan as a sniper supporting Marines conducting foot patrols in Helmand province. Cox is both serious and relaxed but fun loving at the same time. He wants to continue his line of work after the military. 

Why did you come into the Marine Corps?

–I’ve always wanted to do it. I always wanted to do something as far as serving my country. 

Did you ever think of doing anything else?

–Not really.

What’s unique about your job that sets you apart from other people?

–I have the long gun, and I can see a lot further. I remember when I did my first deployment to Afghanistan I was a [rifleman]. I was like, “I can barely see these people. It was like shooting at little dots.

What about your job do you like most?

–Operating. I love being out there. I don’t know. It sucks that your boys are out there with you, but it’s like brotherhood through misery. It definitely helps. You don’t want to go through that experience alone. Not only out here, but even in garrison, you have a lot of stuff you have to deal with. You just deal with it together. 

Have you seen yourself grow over the last several years?
–Oh yeah, I’ve definitely got thicker skin. I never really changed, just got thicker skin. 

Have you seen how you fit into the bigger picture?
–[We] definitely instill some fear in the enemy. When you can get that close shot to them, and they watch [their guy] go down, it’s like, “We got to back off because these guys can reach out and touch me.”

Could you imagine doing anything else other than what you do now?
–Not really. 

Have you found the Marine Corps a place you really fit into or 
–I definitely think I was like this before the Marine Corps. I‘ve kind of grown as far as dealing with things. You can’t just complain about everything. You just have to truck on and roll with the punches. It kind of helps you in life, too.

Have you had people who inspired you along the way?
–I’ve had [them] all throughout my Marine Corps career. You always take the good things from people and just try and instill them in yourself. If you see the bad things, you’re just like, “Hey, I’m never going to be like that.”

What are some of the traits you’ve seen in successful leaders?
–[They’re] kind of like one of the guys, but [they’re] firm too. You don’t want to upset them because you feel like you let them down and that hurts you more than anything.

What characteristics make you good at what you do?
–I don’t know. I’m just me. I’m competent (laughing).

What’s it like to go out into the field and perform your mission?
–I love operating. Not all [missions] are home runs, and you do have some snoozers. It happens. But whenever things do go down, I love it. You get that adrenaline pumping.

How do you cope with the unpleasant things?
–We just have to vent to each other … We’ll just talk to each other. That’s it because our peers are all we’ve got out here. 

What kinds of people succeed in the Marine Corps? 
–Like I said, you don’t want to do anything to upset them if you’re under them. It’s hard to explain. They have to be guys who stand their ground. 

How does the training and experience help you distinguish leaders? 
–We’re going to find out if you’re worthy or not. It’s kind of like the Spartans. You need that experience because we’re going to find out. Either you’re going to go into baby mode or you’re going to become a man.

Have you found fulfillment in your job?
–This is what I always wanted to do. It’s definitely like a life achievement goal. It’s one of those things where I don’t want to have to think, “I wish I did this,” or something. I can grow old and happy knowing I made it. 

Cpl. Dennis Cox, a New York City native and scout sniper with 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regional Command (Southwest), uses his rifle scope to scan distant buildings during an interdiction operation in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Dec. 19, 2013. Cox has been in the Marine Corps for 5 years and is on his third deployment.

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This weekend was such a lovely surprise!! I had such a hard time deciding if I was going to dance being that I’ve been practicing by myself on the rubber floor in the gym but I’m so happy I did! This Oireachtas meant a lot to me after tearing my tendon at Oireachtas last year and being out for 5 months (and not recalling at nationals). Dancing in college is a lot harder than I thought but a little hard work and determination goes a long way! I’m so happy to be 9th in region and to be going to Worlds!! Here’s to a fantastic weekend with great friends!! 💗💃🏼🌎