IRAD B. OXLEY, LCDR, USN
Irad Oxley '43
Date of birth: February 27, 1921
Date of death: October 16, 1951
From the 1943 Lucky Bag:
Blair was lost on October 16, 1951 when his F2H-2 Banshee, operating from USS Essex (CV 9), was hit by anti-aircraft artillery and crashed near Majon-ni, North Korea. The aircraft exploded on impact with the ground.
From the Class of 1943 anniversary book "25 years later…":
OX was born on 27 February 1921 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was appointed from New Jersey and reported to the Academy on 28 June, 1939. Upon graduation Ox reported to the destroyer USS LARDNER in the Pacific in which he served until he attended Fire Control School in Washington, D.C. in September 1944, The LARDNER was in the following operations while Ox was aboard: the Battle of Tassafaronga, the Green Island Raid and the Marianos Operation, Next Ox served aboard the destroyer USS PERKINS and then took command of the Fleet Minesweeper USS TOKEN. In December 1947 he underwent flight training at Corpus Christi, Texas and Pensacola, Florida. His first operational flight duty was with Fighter Squadron One Hundred Seventy-two which entered the Korean War embarked in the carrier USS ESSEX.
On 16 October, 1951 Ox’s aircraft was hit by enemy fire while over Korea which resulted in his death. He wore the Bronze Star, Air Medal, Purple Heart, American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, the American Area Campaign Medal, the World War Il Victory Medal and the Korean Service Medal with one Bronze Star. Ox’s Air Medal citation reads:
For distinguishing himself by meritorious achievement in aerial flight as pilot of a jet fighter in Fighter Squadron ONE SEVEN TWO, attached to the USS ESSEX, in attacks on hostile North Korean and Chinese Communist forces. During the period from 23 August 1951 to 15 October 1951, in the face of grave hazards, Lieutenant Commander Oxley participated in twenty flights including strikes on transportation and lines of communication of HAMHUNG, HONGNAM, KILCHU, HYESANJIN and MAJ ONNI. He performed his assigned missions with skill and courage. His devotion to duty was at all times in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
He was survived by his parents Mr. and Mrs. Irad L. Oxley who at Ox's death resided at 110 Washington Avenue, Woodbine, New Jersey.
He was squadron operations officer for Fighter Squadron (VF) 172. He has a memory marker in Arlington National Cemetery.
One month before he was shot down, on September 16, 1951, he had a mid-air collision with another aircraft from his squadron. Irad was able to land safely, but the other pilot was lost when his aircraft crashed into another aircraft during recovery aboard USS Essex (CV 9).
Blair was an honorable mention for the 1942 All American Lacrosse team.