Frank A. Liberato
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Captain Frank Liberato lived and died with the bravery and passion of a fighter pilot. A 1951 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he is the only American to survive going through the screws of an aircraft carrier after the engine on his Hellcat fighter failed on takeoff. His plane crashed and the carrier ran over him and his plane. During the Cuban Missile Crisis he took the reconnaissance photos that showed the missiles' location and that were shown to President Kennedy hours later. But he said his greatest accomplishment was to marry Patricia Nelson.
The son of Frank and Anna Lee Croft Liberato, he is survived by Patty and their children, Lynne, Frank, Mark and Paul and their spouses, James Flodine and Anne, Robin and Lindy Liberato, his brother Samuel Rodman Liberato and his son-in-law Dr. Tom Nichols. He so loved his grandchildren, Callon, Vince, Gina, Austin, Benjamin, Reid, Alexandra, Aaron and Nick. Baby Peyton will be his first great grandchild.
Captain Liberato was a Navy fighter pilot from 1953 -1977, served on 9 different aircraft carriers as a pilot or ship's company member. He retired from Chance-Vought in 1990 as Manager of System Safety.
A 1945 graduate of Catholic High School, he first attended Auburn before going to USNA.. He returned to marry Pasty Nelson, the daughter of J.B. and Cecile Hooton Nelson. Ultimately, he retired to Pensacola where he was a docent at the Naval Aviation Museum, president of the Kiwanis of Big Lagoon, King of the Krewe of Avant Garde, and a Eucharist minister and lector for Holy Spirit Catholic Church. He and Patty returned to Texas in 2007 to be closer to their children.
A Requiem Mass in his memory was celebrated on October 9. Capt. Liberato had asked those wishing to do so to make donations to Catholic Charities of Houston, U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, Inc. or the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, Inc.
Heaven has one more warrior guarding its gates.
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Published in Pensacola News Journal on Oct. 9, 2013