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Martin Cox '88

Date of birth: January 19, 1964

Date of death: March 21, 1991

Age: 27

Lucky Bag

From the 1988 Lucky Bag:


From the Associated Press via on March 21, 1991:

SAN DIEGO - Two Navy submarine-hunting planes collided Thursday, and all 27 people aboard were feared dead in cold, choppy waters 60 miles off Southern California, authorities said.

The Navy listed the crews as missing, but there was little hope any of the crew members from the downed P-3 Orions survived.

The all-weather planes were engaged in an anti-submarine Warfare exercise when they collided in bad weather, authorities said.

"I think we have to be realistic here," said Senior Chief Petty Officer Bob Howard, a Navy public affairs officer at North Island Naval Air Station. "It is very cold out there. We're talking about what apparently is a mid-air collision...two aircraft. I would say it would be very grim."

Still, he said, the Navy was conducting an aggressive air and sea search of the crash site.

Search and rescue teams saw some debris from the planes but found no signs of life.

There was no word on how long the search would last, but Howard said the Navy would make "extraordinary" attempts to retrieve remains and wreckage.

The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, the destroyer USS Merrill and at least two other ships, along with helicopters and fixed-wing planes, were assisting in the search.

A Navy helicopter crew flying in the area and sailors from the Merrill reported a ball of fire and loud explosion about 2:30 a.m. PST, Howard said during a briefing at North Island Naval Air Station.

He said the accident occurred over the Pacific Ocean about 60 miles southwest of San Diego.

The collision occurred as one P-3 Orion was arriving to relieve the other, which had just completed its part of the exercise, Howard said. Officials were uncertain how much contact the pilots had before the crash, he said.

Howard said it was believed 13 crew members were aboard one P-3 Orion and 14 on the other. The planes were on a training mission from Moffett Naval Air Station near San Jose. Names of crew members were withheld pending notification of their families.

The P-3s were in contact with land- and sea-based air controllers during the exercise, but officials were uncertain who was directing them at the time of the collision, Howard said.

Showers and strong winds were reported in the San Diego area overnight. The National Weather Service said pilots in the area reported severe turbulence about the time of the collision.

Howard said the Navy was uncertain what part, if any, weather played in the collision.

The P-3 Orion, driven by four propellers, is regularly used by weather forecasters to fly in hurricanes.

Martin is listed as being 27 years of age and from Oklahoma City, Okla.


From The Daily Oklahoman on March 26, 1991:

Lt. j.g. Martin "Brad" Cox of Oklahoma City was recommended for a rare "'accelerated promotion" just weeks before he and 26 other sailors died in a two-plane collision last week, his uncle said Monday.

Richard C. "Dick" McDonald of Bartlesville told several hundred mourners that Cox, 27, "gave his life in the service of our country."

Cox was killed Thursday in the collision of two Navy P-3 Orions on a training exercise over the Pacific Ocean about 60 miles southwest of San Diego. The Navy abandoned the search Sunday without finding any survivors.

McDonald, who is retired from the Navy, briefly detailed Cox's youth in Oklahoma City.

McDonald said Gayle Cox found her son's Feb. 28 performance report last week when she went to California during a Navy search for the missing sailors.

Having been in the Navy, McDonald said he recognized that Cox's squadron commander used "some key words"' in the report.

"Trusted leader" was one of the phrases that was used," he said.

McDonald said the commander also wrote that Cox "is an outstanding aviator with a gift for mastering complexities. He is the finest first-tour aviator in the squadron."

"He saved for last some words that are rarely written in these performance reports," McDonald said.

"The words are, 'recommended for accelerated promotion.' Now that is Navy shorthand for 'this man is destined to be an admiral,' "he said.

McDonald said that each year the Navy is permitted to promote only 5 percent of its officers ahead of the others. He said that in his experience, it is "almost unheard of that a lieutenant junior grade is recommended for accelerated promotion."

"But that is not to be," he said.

McDonald said the memorial service at First Presbyterian Church in Oklahoma City was to "honor this man with hope and with the knowledge that he was doing a good thing." About 150 people at tended the service.

Cox's mother and two sisters attended a memorial service Monday at a Mountain "View, Calif., church normally attended by Cox and his wife, McDonald said.

McDonald recalled that shortly after Cox finished training to become a naval hospital corpsman. he apparently saved the life of a sister while he was home on leave.

Cox discovered his sister Jennifer was ill late one night, he said. "And with this fresh training that he had, fortunately, he recognized that it was more than just an illness: he saw her in great trauma," he said.

Cox had his sister taken immediately to the hospital where she was diagnosed as having toxic shock syndrome, he said. "Had he not done this, she probably would have died by morning," McDonald said.

When Cox graduated from Classen High School in 1982, he received the Classen Medal of Honor for citizenship and scholastic achievement, McDonald said.

After graduation, Cox joined the Navy and later "applied for a fleet nomination to the Naval Academy," he said. Although the Navy sends fewer than 100 sailors to the academy each year, Cox got the appointment in 1984, he said.

In 1988, Cox received a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the Naval Academy and married Lisa Marie Ford in Fairfax, Va., McDonald said.

Cox took the first part of his flight training at Pensacola, Fla., and then went to Corpus Christi, Texas, where he trained in multi-engine flight, he said. "There he received his wings as a naval aviator -- first in his class."

Then he went to Patrol Squadron 50 at Moffett Naval Air Station near San Francisco where he learned to fly the P-3 Orion, a four-engine turboprop airplane used to hunt submarines.

"Four months ahead of his contemporaries at Patrol Squadron 50, he qualified to pilot the P-3 Orions," he said.

Two other Oklahomans also died in the crash of the P-3 Orions, Lt. j.g. Jay A Williamson, 27, of Moore and Petty Officer 2nd Class Francis A. Sposato, 30, of Tulsa.


From the October 1991 issue of Shipmate:

Lt (jg) M. Bradford Cox, USN, was killed in a P-3 mid-air collision on 21 March 1991 while flying a training mission off the coast of San Diego.

A memorial Mass was held on 25 March at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Mountain View, California. A second memorial service was held on 28 March at NAS Moffett Field.

Brad was born 19 January 1964. After attending the Naval Preparatory School, he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy with the Class of 1988.

He graduated from the Academy 25 May 1988 and married the former Lisa M. Ford of Fairfax, Virginia on 27 May 1988. Brad received his Naval Aviator Wings 15 December 1989 at NAS Corpus Christi. He was assigned to VP-31 Training Squadron in January 1990 and to VP-50, NAS Moffett Field in July 1990. He was assigned the duties of Aviator's Equipment Branch Officer

Lt (jg) Cox is survived by his wife, Lisa M. Cox, 313 South 61st Avenue, Pensacola, Florida; his mother, Gayle Cox of Oklahoma City; his father, L. Allen Cox of San Diego; and his sisters, Paula Hirschler and Jennifer Cox of Oklahoma City.

Other Information

From researcher Kathy Franz: “Brad” graduated from Classen High School in 1982. Tennis, National Honor Society, Chess Club.

From The Daily Oklahoman on March 11, 1985:

Midshipman Martin Cox had to enlist in the Navy after he was graduated from Classen High School to attend the prep school.

Cox remained an enlisted man after boot training and was sent to hospital corps school. He was working as a corpsman in the pharmacy of the naval hospital at Bethesda, Md., when he received his call to report to Newport.

Cox is looking forward to the end of the academic year in a couple of months when he will be freed from plebe restraints.

But he says the shock of academy life was lessened for him because of the route he followed to get there.

“A lot of plebes get homesick,” he said. “I’d already been through that when I went to boot camp.

“Plebe summer wasn’t so bad for me because I also had been through a lot of that at Newport and making efficient use of my time also hasn’t been a shock either. That was something else we learned at the preparatory school.”

He has a marker in Arlington National Cemetery.


Related Articles

Robert Nemecek '80, Dennis Redmond '86, Jay Williamson '86, Mark Hamilton '87, and Ned Metcalf, Jr. '87 were also lost in the collision of two P-3 Orions of Patrol Squadron (VP) 50 off the coast of Southern California on March 21, 1991.

Class of 1988

Martin is one of 8 members of the Class of 1988 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.