LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — The Marines are looking for a few good men. They certainly found one Austin Cox.
Cox, a 2011 graduate of Piqua High School is a corporal serving in the United States Marine Corps and is stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA.
Cox and another Marine were at the Jason Aldean concert, part of the Route 91 music festival, in Las Vegas on Sunday when gunfire broke out, the shooter, Stephen Paddock, 64, firing indiscriminately into a crowd estimated at some 22,000.
As the shots rang out, Cox and his buddy Mike Vura, were like everyone else — confused, as the horror began to unfold.
Once the reality of what was happening set in, the two Marines did what the Marine’s months and years of training had taught — they ran toward the gunfire.
In an interview with Cox from Camp Pendleton, the corporal said, “I looked at him (Vura), he looked back at me and we just took off running towards the fire, in hopes that we could help some people.”
Among the wounded was Katrina Hannah. She had been hit twice, once in the shoulder and once in the neck. Cox knew that he had to tend to Hannah who was bleeding badly. “We sat there for a little while, trying to take cover. Not much cover where we were at,” recalled Cox, “so I picked her up and ran to more cover. Once we got there, we kind of waited for some help but help never came, it was a little too chaotic. So, we picked her back up and ran around back where we got into a civilian car where they ran us to the hospital.”
During this entire ordeal, Cox was attempting to staunch the flow of blood from Hannah’s wounds.
“I was just trying to keep her calm, she was going in and out (of consciousness).” said Cox, “She seemed to be a fighter.”
Hannah, who had been separated from her mother minutes before the shooting began communicating that she wanted to contact her mother. She had lost her phone in the chaos. She could not speak due to her wounds but she mouthed and pointed at the numbers on Cox’ phone so that they could contact her.
Cox stayed by Hannah’s side throughout the night, keeping vigil with Hannah’s mother until they were called off to another room.
Cox downplays his role in the event. “All in all I just tried to help as many people as I could,” said the Marine.
As for his training playing a part, “The main thing was mindset. We get a lot of mind training,” said Cox, “training on how to react in situations like that, to focus and not freak out.”
Cox said that if there is one word to describe recent events, it is “overwhelming.” The young Marine has been inundated with requests for interviews from across the country. Like his actions during the shooting, he is taking it all in stride.
Cox‘ sister Alysha Ross, 26, who lives in Piqua flew to Camp Pendleton to be with her brother as he deals with the aftermath.
The United States Marine Corps has a centuries-old tradition of protecting Americans. Corporal Austin Cox proved himself worthy to carry on the proud tradition during Sunday’s shooting spree. If not for Cox, Vura, and a number of other First Responders running toward the sound of the gunfire, the death toll from the shootings could have been much higher.