Wing Commander John Coxen, from Royal Air Force Benson, was born in 1959. Originally from Liverpool, he joined the Royal Air Force, upon completion of Initial Officer Training, in January 1983.
Throughout his years in the Air Force, John flew a number of helicopter types on a range of operations, including the Puma, Merlin and Chinook, on 7 Squadron at RAF Odiham and 18 Squadron at RAF Guterslöh. He also commanded 1 Squadron at No. 2 Flying Training School at RAF Shawbury. Well known for his high standards, he had a gift for developing his students to their full potential; indeed many of today’s front-line Royal Air Force helicopter pilots owe their achievements to his dedication and skill. He joined 28 (Army Co-operation) Squadron as one of the first aircrew to join the squadron when it was formed to bring the new Merlin helicopter into RAF service, and made a valuable contribution to the unit’s development. Throughout his time at the front-line, John developed a persona that was greatly respected and well-liked by all who flew with him, peers and students alike.
On promotion to Wing Commander, John worked in the Ministry Of Defence where his duties included: the development of Defence policy for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan; crucial work in the formation of a UK combat search and rescue capability; and vital airworthiness advice for all Royal Air Force helicopters. He attended the United States Air Force Staff College at Montgomery, Alabama. On completion of this course, he brought his wealth of knowledge and experience back to Royal Air Force Benson and took up the post of Officer Commanding Rotary Wing Operational Evaluation & Training Unit and Support Helicopter Standards Evaluation Wing in February 2005.
Group Captain Duncan Welham, Station Commander Royal Air Force Benson, said of him:
"John’s reputation across the Support Helicopter Force and Royal Air Force was second to none. He was a unique individual, humble and courageous. The world will be sadder place without him.
"A true professional at work in all that he touched, he was outwardly quiet, but always had a twinkle in his eye that gave away a mischievous and dry sense of humour. He could always see the fun in any situation. A truly devoted husband, John enjoyed family life to the full with his wife Agnes and will be sadly missed."