Col. Frank W. (Bill) Mann Jr., U.S. Air Force retired, a true example of the "greatest generation" was called home to the clear blue skies on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. He was born May 2, 1920, in Bayonne N.J., and raised in Wyoming. Bill led a worldwide life of adventure serving his country in three wars. After his graduation from Cheyenne High School at the tender age of 17, his parents allowed him to enter the Wyoming National Guard. Serving in the state's cavalry, he was at home in a McClellan saddle which began a lifelong commitment to serve his country. After his cavalry tour, he attended the University of Wyoming earning his bachelor's degree in geology and completed work for his master's degree. Upon graduation, Bill was called to active duty and commissioned to second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps and completed pilot training class 42-D thus began his military aviator career. As a young pilot, he spent time in the service as an instructor pilot, and in a B-24, T-13, and AT-9 aircraft to name a few during World War II. He supported the Crossroads Project, a series of nuclear and thermonuclear tests conducted on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in a B-29. As war broke out in Korea, Col. Mann was recalled to active duty in the United States Air Force. He served as a bomber Squadron Leader in air raids during the Korean War and later flew for the inspector general in Vietnam. Col. Mann, a Command Pilot, spent the later portion of his career in numerous leadership and command positions throughout the world. In 1973, after 37 years of selfless service, logging over 10,000 hours as an aviator, Col. Mann retired. Through his distinguished and decorated career, Col. Mann earned many awards including the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and numerous other distinguished medals, awards, and honors during his service to the nation. After hanging up his aviator's wings, the Mann's settled in Fort Walton Beach and Bill started a legacy of civic leadership. He helped co-found the local Lions Club in the 1980's, volunteered at the Chamber of Commerce, and was a member of the National Board of Directors and President of the Fort Walton Beach Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). Col. Mann was a lifetime member of the George "Bud" Day Flight, #61, Order of Daedalians. Col. Mann was the past Flight Captain of ShangriLa Flight, this group of aviators was his passion. His golf group, of over 30 years, helped him work on his patience before, during and after a golf game.
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Bill is survived by his wife, Margie (Hatton) of Malone, Fla.; their two daughters, Cindy (Jack) Hogan of Atlanta, Ga., and Karen (Bubba) Burch of Lafayette, La.; and three grandchildren, Shannon Staudt, John Hogan and William Burch.
A celebration of Bill's life will be held Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, at the Emerald Coast Funeral Home on Racetrack Road in Fort Walton Beach beginning with a visitation at 1 p.m., and a service with Military honors at 2 p.m., followed by a reception at Two Trees Restaurant at the Fort Walton Beach Municipal Golf Course starting immediately after service.
In lieu of flowers, Col. Mann's family requests your consideration of a charitable donation to the Eglin Air Force Base Armament Museum, 100 Museum Dr. Eglin AFB, FL 32542, or the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society, 752 Lovejoy Road, NW, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548.
Expressions of love and sympathy may be viewed and submitted online at www.emeraldcoastfuneralhome.com.
Published Online in Northwest Florida Daily News from Feb. 20 to Feb. 21, 2014
Emerald Coast Funeral Home
113 Racetrack Road Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547