Capt. John Sax Parameter flying in 2016 | Capt. Sax Memorial Foundation

John’s Story

Capt. John J. Sax was a beloved husband, father, son, brother, uncle, grandson, cousin, nephew, and friend.  He leaves behind his wife and their two daughters, in addition to a plethora of cherished memories that are held in the hearts of all who knew him.

“To know John is to love John.”  When speaking with John's friends and family, he is often remembered for his smile, contagious laughter, and incredibly joyful spirit.  He quickly and easily became a friend to anyone that he met, and his love for his family and his fellow brothers and sisters in service radiated throughout all that he did.

Discovering His Love for Aviation

John was born in Torrance, California, and spent most of his upbringing living in the Sacramento Area.  At the age of 8 years old, John realized his passion for aviation after a single flight in a Yak-52.  As with many others with a love for flight, he would pause to look up at the sky when a plane flew by.  While most kids his age would be playing traditional childhood games, John could be found pretending that he was in a cockpit flying.  He would spend many days attending Air Shows with his family, wandering the pits, climbing into the cockpits, and talking shop with the race crews.

It was clear to anyone who John met that becoming a pilot was his lifelong dream.  John's family and closest friends were instrumental in cheering him on as he worked towards that goal. Throughout each milestone in that pursuit, John always directed recognition back to his family and friends, knowing that their love and encouragement helped to pave the way.

Capt. John Sax Foundation | John Sax | Capt. Sax Scholarships for aviation | A young John shows his budding interest for aviation.

Ready for Takeoff

John attended college at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at their Prescott, AZ campus, where he earned his Bachelors of Science in Aeronautical Science in 2013.  In 2010, John went up for his first solo flight, which was one of many aviation milestones John would complete at Embry-Riddle.  He went on to earn his Private and Commercial Pilot Certificates in addition to his Multi Engine and Instrument Ratings.

Teaching and Mentoring

After graduating college, John returned to Northern California and began dating Amber, who would go on to become his wife. John became a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) while preparing for the upcoming Officer Candidate School (OCS) selection board date with the Marine Corps.  As a flight instructor, John quickly earned a reputation within the local aviation community for his incredible passion for teaching and mentoring others.  When John wasn’t instructing, he would often be found giving sightseeing flight tours of the California coastline and Paramotoring (Powered Paragliding).

Capt. John Sax Foundation | John Sax Marine Pilot | Capt. Sax Scholarships for aviation
Capt. John Sax Foundation | John Sax | Capt. Sax Scholarships for aviation | Driving a humvee

Semper Fidelis

In 2016, John received the news that he was selected to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Quantico, Virginia that fall.  He went on to complete OCS that November, and The Basic School (TBS) in 2017 before moving to Pensacola, Florida to begin his Flight Training at NAS Pensacola.  It was during TBS that Amber and him were married, surrounded by friends and family in Sacramento California.

Flight School

John attended the Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API) class 17-46 where he finally earned his long awaited right to don a military flight suit. He checked into the VT-6 “Shooters”, where he flew the T-6B Texan II.  A natural pilot, he showed a high level of aptitude and was subsequently selected for Advanced Jet Training.

In the summer of 2018, Captain Sax moved to Kingsville, TX to begin his training with the VT-21 RedHawks, where he learned to fly the T-45C Goshawk. Nearing the end of the training syllabus, Captain Sax accepted a transfer to the V-22 Osprey pipeline, which brought him back to Pensacola to complete intermediate helicopter training in the TH-57 B and C as an HT-8 “Eightballer”. 

At the completion of helicopter training, he reported to Corpus Christi to fly the T-44C Pegasus, a multi-engine trainer to prepare for the dual engine characteristics of the MV-22B. At the conclusion of multi-engine training, John was designated a Marine Corps Aviator and received his "Wings of Gold" in October of 2020.  His oldest daughter was in attendance at his winging ceremony as a newborn, to witness Amber pin on his long awaited wings for the very first time.

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Wings of Gold

After earning his "Wings of Gold", John went on to report to VMMT-204, the “Raptors” in North Carolina before moving to Camp Pendleton, where he was assigned to VMM-764, the “Moonlighters,” and then on to VMM-364, the “World Famous Purple Foxes.”  John was extremely honored to become a Purple Fox, a squadron with such an incredible history and reputation. He often spoke about how proud he was to be in the squadron that was awarded the #1 VMM of the year in the Marine Corps for their “Espirit de Corps”. John understood the standard the Purple Foxes set for their Marines, and he lived up to them with every moment and every action.  It was just before joining the Purple Foxes that John learned he had another daughter on the way.


In June 2022, John and four other marines were tragically lost while conducting a training mission near Glamis, California, when their aircraft suffered an unrecoverable, catastrophic mechanical failure.

The names of the four other fallen Marines of Swift 11 are:

Capt. Nicholas P. Losapio, 31, of Rockingham, N.H.

Cpl. Nathan E. Carlson, 21, of Winnebago, Ill.

Cpl. Seth D. Rasmuson, 21, of Johnson, Wyo.

Lance Cpl. Evan A. Strickland, 19, of Valencia, N.M.

With all we do, we honor these Marines and the sacrifice that they made, and we must dedicate ourselves to ensure that their legacy carries forward. Each of them leave behind families, friends, and so many others that loved them so tremendously.

There will never be a day where they aren’t continuing to live on in so many hearts and memories.

Capt. Sax Foundation | Purple Foxes Swift 11 | VMM-364 | Capt. John Sax Foundation Marine Pilot Scholarship
Capt. John Sax Foundation | John Sax | Capt. Sax Scholarships for aviation | John Sax and his wife, Amber Sax on a marine flight line.

John’s Legacy

John leaves behind a legacy that will always remain. He was the most incredible husband, father, friend, son, brother, and pilot that you could have ever wished for.  He will always live on through his two daughters, through the many lives that he touched throughout his lifetime, and through the lives he continues to touch through his legacy.

Pilot’s Creed

I am a United States Marine flyer.

My countrymen built the best airplane in the world and entrusted it to the absolute limit of my power.

With my fellow pilots, air crews, and deck crews, my plane and I will do anything necessary to carry out our tremendous responsibilities. I will always remember that we are part of an unbeatable combat team – The United States Marine Corps.

When the going is fast and rough, I will not falter. I will be uncompromising in every blow I strike. I will be humble in victory.

I am a Marine Flyer. I have dedicated myself to my country, with its many millions of all races, colors, and creeds. They and their way of life are worthy of my greatest protective effort.

I ask the help of God in making that effort great enough.

Marine Pilot Capt. John Sax | Capt. Sax Foundation