Billy Rex Cottrell, 88, of Kents Store, Virginia, died Wednesday, February 27, 2008.
Born in Hollister, Oklahoma on November 8, 1919, and raised in Midland, Texas, he was the son of the late Clay Rex and Opal E. Cottrell.
He served his country in the United Stated Navy and World War II through the Cold War. A veteran of the battle of Midway, the Solomon Islands campaign, the battle of Santa Cruz, and the blockade of Cuba, he served aboard numerous vessels, including the USS Chicago, USS Hornet, USS Coral Sea, USS Midway, and the USS Forrestal, and flew as crewman in several types of aircraft, including the SBC-4, SBD-3, and P2V.
During the battle of Midway, he served as an Aviation Radioman in Bombing Squadron 8 (VB-8) aboard the USS Hornet ( where his plane was forced to ditch in the ocean). At Santa Cruz, before the Hornet was sunk on October 27, 1942, he and others not flying took .30 -caliber guns from aircraft that could not fly, mounted them on the rails of the ship and defended the Hornet from attacking aircraft.
In his 30- year career with the Navy, he also served with Patrol Squadron 18, Patrol Squadron 26, Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron 3, and at Naval Air Stations throughout the world. During the course of this service, he was awarded the Navy Good Conduct Medal (five awards), the American Defense Medal (with one star), American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (with 3 stars), the World War II Victory Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.
After retiring from the Navy as a Chief Warrant Officer Four on October 31, 1969, Billy Cottrell spent his time farming and raising dogs.
He was an avid amateur radio operator, using the call sign W4CZY and achieving an advanced Amateur Extra license.
He is survived by three sisters, Cladyne C. Barrett and Carol C. Childress, both of Kents Store, Virginia and Patricia C. Williams and Thomas T. Jr., of Richmond, Virginia; and three brothers, David F. Cottrell and Terry, of Richmond, Virginia, Jerry L. Cottrell and Linda, of Englewood, Tennessee and Michael V. Cottrell and Celeste, of Kents Store, Virginia; and more than 35 nieces and nephews and more than 45 grandnieces and grandnephews.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by two brothers, Donald H. Cottrell of Midland, Texas, and Monte B. Cottrell of El Cajon, California; and three sisters, Ruth M. Cottrell of Iowa Park, Texas, Hazel C. Geissler of Kents Store, Virginia and Marianne C. Epps of Richmond, Virginia.
Graveside funeral services will be held 2 p.m. Sunday, March, 2, 2008, at the Byrd Chapel United Methodist Church Cemetery in Kents Store, Virginia, conducted by the Reverend Jim Joyner.
The family will receive friends from 7 until 8:30 p.m. at the Sheridan Funeral Home on Saturday, March, 1, 2008.
Published by Daily Progress from Feb. 29 to Mar. 1, 2008.