Fox Drive memorializes IP

  • Published
  • By Jim Malachowski
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Historian
We drive on them all the time, but how often do we stop to consider the story behind the name of a street?
The name helps us give direction and helps us find our way home, but it also often refers to important people and events in our culture and heritage.
Many of the streets on Vance Air Force Base are named for World War II veterans and streets in housing for local dignitaries. This is Fox Drive's story.
The next time you drive onto the base, notice the name of the street and consider Fox Drive was named for a 25-year-old from Purcell, Okla., who was the first instructor pilot killed in an aircraft accident at Vance. Second Lt. Odie Fox Jr. graduated from Oklahoma A&M College before earning his pilot's wings at Randolph Field, Texas. He went on to serve as an instructor at Randolph before his assignment to the Enid Army Flying School. He was one of seven instructor pilots who arrived in Enid the weekend the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and thrust America into war.
Any day we lose an Airman or an aircraft is a bad day. The day Lieutenant Fox died was already a bad day and got worse -- much worse.
Early on the morning of May 12, 1942, aviation cadet Robert Shoup crashed about six miles southeast of Waukomis while flying solo on a night cross-country flight. News traveled slowly 63 years ago, and training continued into the morning without knowing Cadet Shoup's fate and without stopping flying training to investigate the mishap.
So Lieutenant Fox and Cadet William Halstead left Enid Army Flying School on a routine training flight. The BT-15 they were flying crashed at 9:30 a.m. near Auxiliary Landing Field 5, not far from Breckinridge, Okla., about 10 miles northeast of Enid.
We lost an instructor pilot and two cadets that Tuesday morning, learned from the tragedy, and continued with the mission to train pilots. Later that summer, Fox Drive was dedicated to preserve the memory of the young Oklahoma native and the heritage of the early days of Vance AFB.