GARLAND –– Dave Cox knew an air conditioning repair crew was coming on the Fourth of July. The 71-year-old figured they would patch his old system one more time on his Garland home.
But this time, they brought a whole new system –– free.
"Thank you very much for everything you've done," Raymond Brown told him, reaching out to shake Cox's hand. "It's a pleasure to get to put a system in your home."
Cox stood speechless.
"I don't know what to say. Thanks, I guess," he stammered.
Trane donated half the cost. Climate Tech donated the rest.
Brown, the company owner, spent a year in Iraq as a private contractor, providing a/c relief for soldiers.
"It warms my heart to give back to veterans," he said.
Cox is the father of a company employee. He's on a fixed income. And he has the kind of veteran's story that can warm a few hearts.
"This is my father at bootcamp at Great Lakes," he says, pointing to a grainy black and white picture, one of many Navy photos mounted on a deep blue wall in a study filled with Navy nick-nacks. Lamps, candles, compass and ship's helm. His family calls it "Grandpa's Navy wall."
It shows four generations and their ships.
His father served on a destroyer in World War II. His father-in-law also fought World War II at sea. Cox's son drew destroyer duty when he signed up. He points to a picture of him and his son, both in uniform.
"That's me and my son. That's 30 years after a I got out."
The old uniform still fit. Maybe not like when he got it.
"That's my company. That's me back in the 60's," he says, explaining another photo of a big group of sailors.
Dave Cox followed his brother into the Navy. His grandson is still in. His granddaughter is at A&M about to be commissioned.
"She's there on a Navy scholarship. So she will graduate as an ensign," he says.
Cox's time in the Navy put him in the middle of the Cuban missile crisis. He says his destroyer forced a Soviet sub to surface during a tense standoff. That's a lot of Navy history. But not the best part.
"The best thing the Navy ever did for me is I met her," he says, pointing at his wife.
He spotted Mary while on leave with some buddies 51 years ago. Like the plot of the old Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra sailor musical, "On the Town."
"I told them I would meet them back at the ship. There goes the girl I'm gonna marry," he laughs.
It's his favorite story.
They tied the knot five weeks later. He was 18. She had just turned 17.
With such deep military roots, the Fourth of July has always been a big holiday for the Cox family. This year, it's even more so: The gift of worry-free air conditioning in the Texas summer.