Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Francis "Frank" Mika passed into Heaven early Monday morning, May 21, 2012. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Rhonda Maria Mika. Francis and Rhonda met in September of 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.|
Francis was born in Ashley, Pa., on July 9, 1939. As a child, he overcame the death of his father and a polio diagnosis, spending time in the hospital and wheelchair-bound for a portion of his young life. Francis worked hard and went on to attend college and serve his country. 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 of science in international relations 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. Francis logged over 5,000 flying hours as a C-130 navigator.
While serving in the Air Force, Francis received many recognitions and medals, including the 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 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 assigned as a C-118 navigator, a C-130 instructor navigator, Wing Airlift Command Post assistant controller & 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. While stationed at Langley and in Germany, Francis worked alongside NATO during Cold War operations.
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 following military schools: Officer Training School in 1962, Undergraduate Navigator Training in 1963, Squadron Officer School in 1970, Air Command and 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 Francis' military career, he served an additional 10 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, reading, writing, Formula 1 and Indy racing, cycling, soccer, college and pro football, photography, most all types of music, politics, international news, history, science, traveling, and most important, dancing with his wife. He will be missed dearly. He was one of a kind.
On Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, at 10:45 a.m., a funeral service will be held at the Old Post Chapel at Fort Myer, Arlington, followed by a full military honors burial with caisson at Arlington National Cemetery, in honor of Francis' service to our country. He served our nation, as a member of the military and as a member of the civil service, in his career spanning 30 years. Guests are to begin arriving at the Old Post Chapel by 10:15 a.m. Guests are to enter Fort Myer through either Hatfield (Washington Blvd.) or Wright (Rte. 110) gates at approximately 10:15 a.m. Following the funeral service and interment, guests are invited to visit with the family in remembering Lt. Col. Francis "Frank" Mika at 112 E Rosemont Ave., Alexandria.
In lieu of gifts to the family, it is requested that donations be made in Francis' honor to the Wounded Warrior Project at http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/donate.aspx or Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758517, Topeka KS 66675. Francis himself was a 100% disabled veteran due to exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. It would be his wish to provide support to today's veterans in their time of need.
Online condolences may be registered at www.vagazette.com.
Published in Virginia Gazette from Sept. 1 to Sept. 30, 2012