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On July 7, 2014, the city of Alamogordo, and Holloman Air Force Base lost a prominent citizen and military leader when Frank S. Gentile left the bounds of this earth to join the love of his life, Clyda, who preceded him in death nine years ago.
Born May 4, 1936, in Binghamton, N.Y. to Sabitino and Katherine (Osborn) Gentile Frank's family soon moved to California where he graduated from Excelsior Union High School in Norwalk. After attending the University of Arizona, in Tucson, he joined the U.S. Air Force in 1955. Shortly thereafter, he met and married Clyda L. Rooney of Livermore, Calif. They had three children, Steven, Sylvain and Cathy.
Frank served in many different Air Force specialties including Airborne Battlefield Controller. In this capacity, he flew 239 combat missions earning the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). He rapidly rose to the highest enlisted rank - chief master sergeant (CMSgt). His assignments were: Parks AFB, Calif.; Hopedale, Labradore; Moffett AFB, Calif.; Celle, Germany; Luke AFB, Ariz.; DaNang, Republic of Vietnam; Otis AFB, Mas..; Udorn, Thailand; Ramstein Airbase, Germany; Wiesbaden Airbase, Germany and finally Holloman AFB. Temporary duty assignments took the chief all over the world including India, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Spain, Italy, Morocco, Libya and many others.
At HAFB he served several commanding generals as the first senior enlisted advisor (now command chief). Besides the DFC, the chief earned the following military decorations: Meritorious Service medal (2), the Air Medal (10), the Air Force Commendation medal (2), the Combat Readiness Medal (4) and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with palms. Starting long before and continuing after his military retirement, chief Gentile belonged to many service organizations and commissions frequently rising to positions of leadership.
For several years, he was vice president of Alamogordo Western Bank as well as executive director of Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce and the Otero County Economic Development Council. In 1991, he was elected City of Alamogordo Commissioner at Large. Frank was most proud of being founder and chairman for many years of the Retired E-9 Group consisting of up to 125 members, all of them holding the highest enlisted rank in any of the military branches.
Frank was preceded in death by his parents and his wife, Clyda.
He is survived by his sons, Steven and Sylvain and his wife, Patti; his daughter, Cathy; his grandsons, Sylvain, Sean, James and Mark; and greatgrandchildren, Kylie, Tiffany and Kyle, as well as his best friend of over 50 years, Commander Master Sgt. (USAF, Ret.) K. Koelin and his wife, Shirley, and children, Walter, Cindy and Kevin.
A memorial service honoring Frank S. Gentile will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday, July 17, 2014, at the Alamogordo Moose Lodge on South Florida Avenue.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Boys and Girls Club (Otero).
The Gentile family has entrusted their loved one to the care of Hamilton-O'Dell Funeral Home to direct the funeral services.
To sign the online register book, please visit www.hamiltonodell.com
Hamilton-O'Dell Funeral Home - Alamogordo
1334 N. Scenic Dr.
Alamogordo, NM 88310
Published in Alamogordo Daily News from July 15 to Aug. 14, 2014