Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Francis "Frank" Mika passed into heaven early Monday morning, May 21, 2012. A memorial service was held on Friday, May 25, at Nelsen Funeral Home. At a date to be announced in the near future, a service will be held at Fort Myer Chapel, followed by a full military burial with caisson at Arlington National Cemetery, in honor of his service to our country. Francis served our nation as a member of the military and a member of the civil service in his career spanning 40 years.
He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Rhonda Maria Mika. Francis and Rhonda met in September 1964 and married two months later on Nov. 28, 1964. Francis is survived by two children, Brian Francis Mika and Erica Angelina Mika. He was preceded in death by his father, Francis Xavier Mika; his stepfather, Daniel Greb-Lasky; his mother, Leona Greb-Lasky; and his brother, Peter Mika.
He was born in Ashley, Pa., on July 9, 1939. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University, home of the Nittany Lions, in 1961 with a bachelor of business administration degree. In 1977, he received a master's of science in international relations degree from Troy State University.
In 1961, Francis joined the Air Force and remained active duty for 20 years until 1981, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He received many recognitions and medals, including Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in Vietnam, Air Medal with three bronze oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with one bronze oak leaf cluster, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for his service in Cuba and Korea, Combat Readiness Medal with one bronze oak leaf cluster, Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with four bronze oak leaf clusters, the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with one silver star and four bronze stars, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with "V" Device and one silver oak leaf cluster and one bronze oak leaf cluster, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. He also received an Award of Merit given by the Air Traffic Control Association along with fellow Military Airlift Command (MAC) crew members in 1966 for assisting an aircraft in distress in Chicago, Ill., air space, resulting in a safe landing. The MAC crew was able to communicate from their C-130 to the plane in distress and assist the pilot with landing.
From 1961 to 1963, he attended Basic Training, Officer Training and Navigator Training at Lackland Air Force Base and James Connelly Air Force Base, Texas. From 1963 to 1968, he was a C-118 navigator, a C-130 instructor navigator, Wing Airlift Command post assistant controller and route briefing officer and squadron administrative officer at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. From 1968 to 1970, he served as C-130 instructor navigator and squadron administrative officer at Langley Air Force Base.
From 1970 to 1971, Francis was stationed at Nha Trang Air Base in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. He served as C-130 Combat Talon navigator and squadron executive officer. While serving in Virginia and Southeast Asia, he also supported Air America and its special operations missions to include serving Laos, the Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia, among others. From 1971 to 1975, he served as Wing/Base Command post controller, chief, Langley Air Force Base Command Post and Wing personnel officer at Langley Air Force Base.
From 1975 to 1978, he served in the Chief Exercise Plans Division, Military Airlift Center-Europe at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. From 1978 to 1981, he served as maintenance supervisor for the Field Maintenance Squadron and served as the Base/Wing Plans officer at Pope Air Force Base, N.C.
Francis attended the Officer Training School in 1962, Undergraduate Navigator Training in 1963, Squadron Officer School in 1970, Air Command & Staff College in 1975, Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1976, Maintenance Officer School in 1978 and Mac Airlift Operations School in 1979.
Following his military career, he served an additional 20 years as a civil servant for the federal government at the U.S. Army Training & Doctrine Command in numerous capacities. He received an Outstanding Service Award for work with the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Combat Developments for work from 1993 to 2001.
Francis enjoyed sailing, snorkeling, bird watching, writing, Formula One racing, cycling, soccer, college and pro football and traveling. He will be missed dearly. He was one of a kind.
Online condolences may be expressed at www.nelsencares.com or www.vagazette.com
Published in Virginia Gazette from May 25 to June 24, 2012