Colonel Michael Cabell Francisco "Cisco", 66, of Niceville, Fla., passed away peacefully at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Fla. on Nov. 11, 2011. He had extensive complications from a severe stroke suffered Jan. 8, 2011.
Colonel Francisco was born July 29, 1945 at Brook Army Hospital, San Antonio, Texas, to William and Nancy Francisco. After traveling with his parents to many different Army assignments including Japan, Iran and Nicaragua, he entered high school and finished at Andover Prep Academy, Andover, Mass. Mike then proceeded to the U.S. Air Force Academy where he played varsity lacrosse. At graduation he was presented The Samuel Pierport Langley Award as the Outstanding Cadet in Aerodynamics by the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.
After graduation, Mike proceeded to Moody AFB, Ga., for flight training and his pilot wings where he received the commanders trophy for outstanding pilot training program for flying, academics and military performance in October 1968 and was assigned to the 47th Tactical Fighter Squadron at MacDill AFB, Fla., for F-4 Phantom II Combat Crew Training as an Aircraft Commander until June 1969. He next served with the 16th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., from June 1969 to June 1971. Capt. Francisco began flying combat missions in Southeast Asia with the 421st Tactical Fighter Squadron at DaNang AB in the Republic of Vietnam in June 1971, and as a "Stormy" FAST FAC with the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing. In May 1972, he transferred to the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Udorn Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, where he served until December 1972, completing a total of 294 and a half combat missions. (He was shot down, forced to eject and rescued on April 28, 1972.) His next assignment was to Luke AFB, Ariz., with the 311th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron as an F-4 instructor pilot and with the 555th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron as an F-15A Eagle Instructor Pilot and Flight Commander, where he served from January 1973 to April 1978. He then attended the F15 Fighter Weapons School at Nellis AFB in the 433rd Fighter Weapons Squadron. Major Francisco served as Weapons Officer and Deputy Commander for Operations of the 4484th Fighter Weapons Squadron at Eglin AFB from October 1978 to September 1982. Lt. Col. Francisco then served in Europe as Deputy Commander for Operations with the 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron in the Netherlands from September 1982 to June 1985. After completing Air War College, he served in the Pentagon from June 1986 to June 1988. Colonel Francisco then served as the Commander of the 32nd Tactical Fighter Group and Installation Commander from June 1988 to July 1989, when he became the Vice Commander of the 66th Electronic Combat Wing at Sembach AB, Germany, where he served until May 1991. His next assignment was with Headquarters Air Force Intelligence Command and the Air Force Electronic Warfare Center from May 1991 to July 1993, followed by an assignment to Air Force Space Command to establish the Air Force Space Warfare Center from July 1993 to July 1994. Colonel Francisco's final assignment was with the National Reconnaissance Office, as Director of Space Plans and Applications of the Directorate of Military Support in the Pentagon, where he served until retiring from the Air Force on July 31, 1995.
After Colonel Francisco retired, he started his consulting firm for Space and Modern Warfare and continued until the present time. His last official publication was Air Force ISR Operations which appeared in the winter 2010 Air & Space Power Journal. In September, Mike's last trip was to the 50th anniversary of the National Reconnaissance Office at the National Air and Space Museum, Chantilly, Va. He shared his last hurrah with his coworkers and friends from John Hopkins Physics Lab.
Mike held membership in many organizations. He belonged to the Association of Graduates of the Air Force Academy, Air Force Association, American Legion, Order of Daedalians, Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association, NAUS, National Aviation Club, Military Order of the Carabao, Washington D.C., Air Commando Association, Association of Old Crows, Military Affairs of the Emerald Coast, National Rifle Association, and inducted into the National Association of Legion of Valor and the Outstanding Young Men in America in 1981. He also was an Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts of America.
Mike was presented in 2007 with a final honor from the Air Force Academy, Falcon Heritage Forum, for receiving the Air Force Cross, an honor as one of 16 graduates of the Air Force Academy that received the Air Force Cross. A permanent plaque and picture were presented to be placed forever outside his dorm room. These plaques will commemorate service and sacrifice for all cadets to remember when they daily walk past these rooms. Visitors can view Cisco's plaque when visiting the Academy.
Mike was an avid Hobie Cat Sailor. He sailed with the Fleet 178 in Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., in the late 70s and early 80s. He also packed and shipped his Hobie to The Netherlands where he continued to sail with the Dutch. He also had a love and hobby of cooking.
Mike was a member of the First Methodist Church, Ft. Walton Beach, Fla. A Memorial Service and Celebration of Life will be held at First Methodist Church, Ft. Walton Beach, FL on Friday, Jan. 27, at 1 p.m. He will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in the spring 2012.
He leaves behind his loving wife of 31 years, Dr. Patricia Rayburn Francisco, son Billy Meeks (Brenda) of Orlando, Fla.; grandson, Parker Meeks; granddaughter, Addison Meeks; his sister, Dr. Nancy Francisco Stewart; brother, Bill Francisco (Marisol); brother-in-law, Charles Rayburn; uncle, Chuck Schumate and devoted niece and caregiver, Lori Hinnenkamp, all of Houston, Texas; three loving Westie dogs and two cats. He leaves behind numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and remaining aunt, Micky Brown of Victoria, Texas, who was a WASP in World War II and ferried airplanes to and from Europe.
The family would like to thank all of the doctors, nurses and caregivers, especially intensive rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann, Houston, Texas. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital, MD Anderson Cancer Hospital or the American Stroke Association
. Mike was a cancer survivor of 12 years.
Mike loved life to its fullest and was so proud to be an American. Cisco, you fought the hardest of fights, and you will be truly missed by all, especially your wife, animals and family. You were our spirit and anchor.
Additional tributes maybe read at: www.veterantributes.org
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