OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. --
The cycle of life at any military organization is fluid. Airmen raise their hand, enlist, or get their commission, they go off to schools, and they serve their time – some leave after one or two hitches – others strive for that brass ring 20-year retirement and still others; arguably the very few, go a bit further and become the “Airman Emeritus” of an organization.
In many ways, retired Lt. Col. Bob “Fox” Faux was the embodiment of the wing’s history; a curator for an ever-evolving organization of true airpower, a series of historical moments and a never-ending stream of Airmen who came through the gates of Otis Air National Guard Base.
At the very least, Faux was a link to the heritage and legacy of the wing.
Born in 1936, Faux grew up in Abington Massachusetts and attended Boston College after graduating high school in 1954.
Faux first took control of an aircraft when he started pilot training as an aviation cadet at Greenville AFB, Mississippi in July of 1957. During this time, he flew the Beechcraft T-34 Mentor, North American Aviation T-28 and the Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star.
After earning his wings at Greenville, Faux headed west to Williams AFB, Arizona to learn the ins and outs of the legendary North American F-86 Sabre, an aircraft he would fly during one of the most critical times of the Cold War, The Berlin Crisis of 1961.
Departing Williams’ for Ellington AFB, Texas, Faux went on to jet instrument school before returning home to Boston, ready for duty at Logan International Airport – the home base for the 101st Fighter Interceptor Squadron – where he got his local checkout and officially began his career as a fighter pilot with the Massachusetts Air National Guard.
Faux had spent just two short years as a traditional guardsman when a major crisis developed in the capital city of Germany. The USSR demanded the withdrawal of all armed forces from Berlin, including those of their former allies in West Berlin. Unknown at the time, this would be the beginning of border closures and the building of the Berlin Wall, a manifestation of what had already become known symbolically as the Iron Curtain.
During the summer of 1961, as the crisis unfolded, several Air Force reserve units were notified of their pending recall to active duty, one of which was Faux’ own 101st Tactical Fighter Squadron.
In October, the 101st departed Logan International Airport to Phalsbourg AB, France. Overall, the 102nd Tactical Fighter Wing deployed 82 Sabres across the Atlantic.
The 101st's primary mission, and that of Faux and his fellow pilots, was to provide close air support to NATO ground forces and air interdiction. During their time in theater, the 101st participated in several USAF and NATO exercises, including a deployment to Leck Air Base, West Germany near the Danish border.
Eventually, the Air Force decided to pull back forces and deploy back to the United States. After months of operations based at Phalsbourg, the squadron was set to return to Boston.
Faux and his wingmen flew thousands of miles from Phalsbourg to Prestwick, Scotland, to Keflavik, Iceland, and to Sondrestrom, Greenland before several days later they arrived in Boston, breaking through the clouds above Logan Airport, where droves of proud citizens cheered their return.
Faux continued to serve in a part-time capacity until 1964, when he was hired as a flight instructor. Just a year later, the wing received the Republic F-84 Thunderjet.
In another, albeit locally historic event in 1968, Faux, along with his fellow Airmen moved the entire wing operation to its current location on Cape Cod. Otis Air Force Base would be renamed a few years later, after the departure of the Air Force.
In 1971, the unit transitioned to the North American F-100 Super Sabre. Commonly called the “Hun,” short for “hundred”, which Faux flew for two years.
Of the F-100, Faux recounted “Air refueling in the F-100 was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in an airplane.” Faux was forever immortalized, having his name emblazoned on F-100F, tail number 54-1851, during a dedication ceremony in 2014. The aircraft is on display adjacent to the Otis ANGB dining facility.
After his experience with the F-100, Faux and the rest of the unit were given a significant upgrade to the then state-of-the-art Convair F-106 Delta Dart.
For 15 years the Delta Dart would prove to be a favorite with pilots and maintainers alike. Considered the ultimate interceptor, Faux and his wingmen would routinely meet and greet Soviet bombers that were testing the borders of international airspace, and arguably, common sense.
The last aircraft Faux flew professionally was the Beechcraft C-12J 1900. As the unit migrated to the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, Faux went on to become certified on the C-12J, the aircraft that he would fly until his retirement in 1992.
When he retired, Faux had amassed a flying career of nearly 35 years and over 5000 flight hours. Along the way he became a senior pilot, an expert on more than 8 airframes and held nearly every position available to a pilot, from flight instructor to commander of the historic 101st Fighter Interceptor Squadron and later, Deputy Commander for Operations for the wing.
Even in retirement, Faux continued to contribute to the mission of an organization that meant to so much to him. He was an active member of the Otis Civilian Advisory Council for many years, serving as a one-time president of the organization. Faux was also the longest standing board member of the Eagle’s Nest all-ranks club, dedicating his retired life to enhancing the morale and well-being of veterans throughout the region.
In reading this story one might wonder why there is so much wing history included.
That’s the precisely the point.
Faux was a significant part of this wing’s history – since 1957 he was a member of this organization, and even in retirement, he was a pillar of our small community, staying involved in the wellness and readiness of the wing.
Faux held many positions in his time here – and he was a part of this unit through it’s every milestone of the last 65 years. How many missions, how many commanders, how many Airmen enlisting, serving, retiring in a span of over six decades?
Was he a keeper of legacy or was he part of the wing’s legacy itself?
Whether serving side by side with his fellow wingmen or supporting the countless Airmen that have come and gone during his time – the result is clear – Lt. Col. Bob “Fox” Faux was an American Airman.
If you were lucky enough to cross paths with him, consider yourself fortunate – because he connected each of us to our past.
“Airman Emeritus” indeed.