Retired Navy Captain Franklin Garner Hamrick, a decorated naval aviator, died Monday, May 2, 2016, after a courageous battle with cancer.
He was born in Mountain Grove, VA, on July 14, 1932, during the hard times of the Great Depression.
As one of nine children, he grew up fast where only the strong survived. During high school, he excelled in sports and was a standout athlete in football and baseball.
After college he joined the Navy and entered the Naval Aviation Cadet (NAVCAD) program, earning his Wings of Gold in 1954. He was initially assigned to Fighter Squadron VF-61, flying the swept winged FJ-3M Fury. A few months later, the squadron was decommissioned, and he was transferred to the world-famous Jolly Rogers of VF-84. He was one of the pilots who landed a swept winged jet on World War II straight-decked aircraft carriers. Following assignments included flight instructor duty in VT-4, tours in two F-8 Crusader squadrons, aerospace safety management school at the University of Southern California, and safety officer for Fleet Air Jacksonville.
Captain Hamrick’s last four Fleet Squadron tours flying the RA5C Vigilante were in RVAH-7, 5, 1, and finally as the commanding officer of RVAH-13. He flew more than 100 combat missions over North Vietnam and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), two Single Act Medals, and seven Strike Flight Air Medals. His final two assignments in the Navy were on the staff of NATO Supreme Allied Command in Mons, Belgium, and the Supreme Allied Command Atlantic in Norfolk, VA. He logged over 5,000 flight hours and 500 carrier landings.
Following retirement for the next 13 years, Hamrick became a naval science instructor at the Princess Anne High School, Virginia Beach, VA. His NJROTC students won many awards under his leadership. In October 1991, he got back in the air at the Sabreliner Corporation/Raytheon Corporation, NAS Pensacola, FL, flying the T-39N Sabreliner, training naval flight officers. He retired from Sabreliner Corporation/Raytheon Corporation in March 2003.
He was predeceased by his loving wife, Dottie, and son, Frankie.
He is survived by his daughter, Page Hamrick; sister, Virginia Dent; as well as numerous nephews and nieces.
One of the highlights of Frank’s life was writing his memoirs three years before he died. To read “Just Call Me Frank” is to know Frank at a very personal level. He enjoyed getting emails from readers all over the world who told him how much they loved his stories. As the emails continue to pour in, they are being answered by Frank’s loyal friends.
A celebration of Frank’s life will be held at the NAS Pensacola 19th hole on Wednesday, May 11, 2016, from 1600 to 1800, and a second celebration will be held at a later date in Lewisburg, WV.
Information submitted by Wallace & Wallace Funeral Home in Lewisburg.
Obituary originally published in the May 10, 2016, edition of The West Virginia Daily News.