Don Shaffer New Albany MS
Your story is truly inspirational. Thank You for your service to both our country and our Lord. Praying God's Blessings on you and your family and His continued hand upon you. God Bless you brother.
PAT HEATHERLY PONTOTOC MS
I found your story very inspirational,it is Soldiers like you, past and present, who have kept our country free thus far. Because I know your family and go to church with your Mother-in-law Mrs.Rena at Turnpike Baptist Church it really meant a lot to be able to read this story.
Mary Wages New Albany, MS
Before I knew any of this and before this sweet man lost his daughter, I knew he was special. I also work in the hospital and often see him in the halls going from room to room. In fact, many times we see the same patients. I had commented many times that when he was with patients and family there was such a genuine love and concern for them. His prayers were touching and full of God's spirit. Reading this story only confirmed what I already knew. Brother Bobby has a special calling and answers it every day. We love him very much here and prayers are lifted often for him and his wife, Cathy.
Judy Shadburn Jeter Corinth, Ms
No words can really express what a truly genuine man who loves the Lord, our Savior, a friend, a hero and pastor. My family and I know, Bro. Bobby was our pastor for 12 or so years, and our neighbor for a few years. When he came to our church, Glendale Baptist Church, it did not take us long to know what a wonderful pastor we had and how special his family would become to us. Bro Bob, Ms Cathy, son-Jay, daughter-Sherry, and the baby, Amanda. They were all young, Amanda was about kindergarten or 1st grade. We watched these children grow up. He has been a comforter to my family in many ways-joyous and sad. I hope that in a small way, we were there for him & family when Amanda was killed. All of the children were a part of our family. We have precious memories of Bro Bob and his family. We love you Bro Bob. He is a man, who truly deserves to be honored this way. He is a very special person in mine and my family lives.
Courtney Vanderford Rienzi, MS
This article was spot-on regarding Bobby Cossey's personality and his ability to love people!! He is also a very wonderful grandpa!!! :)
Voncile Pruitt Tupelo
This is a heartfelt, touching story. My prayers go out to Mr. Cossey & his family. I think I remember Mr. Cossey from when he was chaplain at NMMC. You never know what a person that you are meeting along the way everyday has been through. For him to continue on serving God & helping others is such a blessing. Even through all his pain & suffering he has not let anything stop him from doing what God has called him to do. Mr. Cossey may God strengthen you & bless you even more!
LACY CRUM WALNUT,MS
THANK YOU FOR SERVING OUR COUNTRY IN THE SERVICE SO WE MIGHT HAVE FREEDOM.EVEN MORE SO THANKS FOR SERVING THREW YOUR WORK IN CHRIST JESUS SO THAT SOULS MIGHT BE SAVED .
SOLDIER. SHEPHERD. DAD.
USMC SGT Bobby Cossey, Veteran of Vietnam
New Albany, MS
Reverend Bobby Cossey has a pastor’s heart. It’s in his DNA spiritually to be concerned about the needs of others. For the better part of the last 40 years, he has devoted his life to comforting and encouraging people who were hurting. He has pastored a half dozen churches all over Mississippi. Today, he walks the halls of Baptist Memorial Hospital in New Albany and Booneville as a chaplain, giving spiritual guidance to patients. He prays with those who are worried and provides hope. He cries with those who are suffering and shows mercy. But everything that he does as a pastor flows out of a life that is all too familiar with suffering.
Bobby Cossey knows what it means to be broken. He knows what it feels like to be scared. In 1969, he was the team leader for a minesweeping unit when he lost four men on a roadway in Vietnam. He has a Purple Heart and a Navy Commendation Medal, but neither of those can ease the pain. Then, just six months ago in December 2011, he lost his daughter Amanda Cossey Price in a senseless murder that happened just down the street from his New Albany home. There is no medal in the world that can heal that wound.
In the pit of both of those moments, Bobby Cossey experienced what every person experiences at some point in their lives. The man who was so accustomed to providing comfort, now needed to be comforted. The man who was quick to hold onto someone hurting, was now the one who needed to be held onto. Bobby Cossey’s story is one that will help you understand the kind of man he became. For he is a pastor who leads like a soldier and loves like a father.
In May 1969, Corporal Bobby Cossey was the team leader for a unit of Marine Corps minesweepers. Their job started early every morning. At dawn, they headed out from their base camp near Hill 55 in Vietnam and carefully cleared the local roadways of mines laid by Viet Cong the night before. On May 22, 1969 his unit made their standard five-mile trek from the gates of their compound. Tall guard towers loomed over the roadways, providing an extra pair of eyes as his team worked methodically down the road. When they came to a spot where the dirt had been turned, they tested the spot for a mine. If one was found, they detonated it then refilled the crater with a sand truck tailing behind. It was a slow and laborious process. It was also a deadly one.
On that particular morning, his unit came to a 100-yard stretch of roadway that been tampered with in ways they had never seen before. Every 15 yards was a spot that looked like it had been mined. Carefully, they tested the first spot only to find that there was no mine. The Viet Cong had dug six holes, filling each one with a sandbag then covering it with dirt. Corporal Cossey realized quickly the potential danger. Basically, the enemy had created six spots in the road where they could very quickly plant a new mine in the spots where the sandbags were. They had essentially prepped the spot. Corporal Cossey knew they would have to be careful on the return trip.
His unit finished their 5-mile route without incident, then turned around for the trip back home about 10am. Going home was almost as methodical as the minesweeping. All along the roadway were guard towers filled with 3-man teams. It was the guard towers responsibility to keep watch over the roadways during the daylight hours. As Corporal Cossey’s team drove back to their camp over the road they had just inspected, Corporal Cossey would call to each tower to ask if they had seen any enemy activity. He called every half mile.
There were eight men in the truck that day. The driver and one soldier were in the cab. The other six, including Corporal Cossey, were in the open air bed of the truck. Corporal Cossey stood just behind the driver’s side of the cab, peering out over the roadway ahead watching for any sign of the enemy. Another soldier stood on the passenger side, letting the breeze hit his face as they drove down the road. The other four men sat on the wheel wells, tired from the morning’s work and talking with each other.
When the truck came to the stretch of road where the six dummy mines had been planted, Corporal Cossey had an innate sense of danger. He says he heard a voice say “Stop”, but it wasn’t an audible voice. It was an inner voice that was warning him of possible danger. Corporal Cossey tapped the top of the truck’s cab twice with his knuckles, the signal to stop. The truck stopped and he scanned the roadway ahead. He then called up to the guard tower that had oversight of this stretch. The guard assured him there had been no enemy activity and that nothing had happened in the two or so hours since they had cleared the six spots. In spite of his gut feeling, Corporal Cossey ordered the truck forward, trusting the guards in the tower had kept their watch. Less than a minute later, an explosion erupted as the truck’s rear tire made direct contact with a mine. Corporal Cossey’s gut had been right and the guard had been wrong.
Three of the men in the truck’s bed were killed instantly, the explosion having taken place directly beneath them. One of the men who was sitting on the wheel well would survive but without his legs. The two men in the truck’s cab survived without severe injuries but were shocked by the blast. Corporal Cossey was blown through the air, over the cab, and onto the roadside dozens of yards away. A part of the bed’s truck crashed down on him, pinning him and breaking his back. One of the clearest memories he has of the moment is that of the young soldier beside him in the back of the truck flying over his head and crying out “Dear God”. Corporal Cossey did the same thing as his body lay limp on the roadside.
Covered in blood and diesel fuel, Corporal Cossey lay broken and scared in the dirt. The skin had been torn from his face and shoulder. His first thought though was of his men, half of whom had just died right around him. Unable to reach the others, he feared what might happen if the enemy came. He was powerless to help. Corporal Cossey promised God that if He would deliver him, he would spend the rest of his life serving Him however He wanted. It wasn’t a battlefield conversion. He had already been struggling with the decision to follow God in ministry. A unit of American soldiers showed up quickly and called in a Medivac.
Corporal Cossey spent two weeks in a hospital in Da Nang, one month in Guam, then yet another month in Millington, TN. When the military examined what happened that day, they discovered that all three of the guards in the tower near Hill 37 had been high on marijuana. The three men charged with overseeing the road’s safety had failed in their duty. They would ultimately be court martialed, but the guilt for losing four lives young men’s lives has stayed with Bobby Cossey for 40 plus years. It is a burden that brings tears to his eyes whenever he revisits it.
Bobby Cossey was medically discharged from the Marine Corps in 1969 and never returned to Vietnam. Before he was discharged, the Corps promoted him to Sergeant and rewarded his service with a Purple Heart and a Navy Commendation Medal. When he came home to Mississippi, he went back to work for a short time before following through on his promise to God.
One year in Vietnam did a lot to prepare Bobby Cossey for 40 years as a pastor. From the discipline of training to the camaraderie of soldiers, plenty of lessons translated from military life to ministry life. The deepest lesson of Vietnam for Bobby Cossey though was valuing the lives of those around you, because they can be gone so fast. It was a lesson he was reminded of in the most painful way this past December. Bobby and Cathy Cossey’s daughter, Amanda Price, was shot and killed behind her home. It was a story that shocked all of north Mississippi, but it truly hit home for the Cossey’s. There were no lessons from Vietnam, or from any other place, that could prepare their family for that loss. It has introduced a grief too great to handle and a pain too deep to bear.
Reverend Cossey has somehow managed to pick up the pieces of losing his daughter and continue to serve. Three days a week he ministers in New Albany. The other two are spent in Booneville. And when he finds people who are hurting, he knows firsthand how they feel. There may not be a man better prepared in all north Mississippi to talk to people on the brink of losing loved ones than Bobby Cossey, for he has lost so much. He understands the value of life, and even more, the value of loving those you have while you can. First as a soldier, second as a pastor, and always as a father – nothing matters more than the people around him.
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