John Winfield Francis, age 96, died peacefully at his home with family at his bedside in Fremont, Ohio, on July 19, 2013 after a long illness.
John served in the United States Air Force as a pilot and retired a Lieutenant Colonel. He served in the Fifth Air Force 54th Troup Carrier Wing in the South Pacific during World War II. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross as well as various commendations and citations.
Following the war he continued in the Air Force in various capacities, including the Director of Reserve Affairs in Washington D.C. and as a senior pilot in the Special Air Missions unit, flying dignitaries including U.S. senators, the vice president and various foreign leaders. Following his service in the Air Force he worked as national sales manager for the Herman Shoe Company, an agent for the Paul Revere Life Insurance Company and an employee of the State of Ohio.
He was born March 22, 1917 to John and Mabel (Jarvis) Francis in Kansas City, Kansas. He is survived by his wife of 67 years Jeane Francis, sons John (Pat) Aitkin, MN, Robert (Cheryl) Leland, NC and Richard (Caren) Columbus, OH, and older sister Anna Bloch of Lawrence, KS. Also surviving him are 8 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.
John enjoyed airplanes, gardening and visiting the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. His grandchildren fondly remember him singing silly old songs to them, such as “The Old Family Toothbrush.”
He flew 185 combat missions in World War II. When asked why he did not return home after the usual 50 missions, his response was so typical of him. It was modest, brief, to the point and illustrated his sense of duty and responsibility: “The war was not over yet.” These were among the things he taught his children by example.
Services will be private.
Memorials can be made to VFW Post #2947, 204 Birchard Ave, Fremont, OH 43420; Hospice of Memorial Hospital, 430 S. Main St, Clyde, OH 43410 or The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force,1100 Spaatz St, Wright-Patterson AFB OH
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