Frank "Rocco" Montesano
July 27, 1949 – April 13, 2018
Frank “Rocco” Montesano passed away April 13, 2018, at the age of 68. Rocco was born on July 27, 1949 to Ann and Rocco Montesano in Passaic, New Jersey, but was raised in Hackensack, New Jersey. Rocco graduated from The United States Naval Academy in 1971, and served in the U.S. Navy from 1971-1998. Rocco was promoted to Captain and was awarded two Legion of Merit medals, two Meritorious Service Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal, and five Sea Service ribbons. He also served during Operation Desert Storm and was Commanding Officer of A6 Squadron VA176 (Thunderbolts) where he won three consecutive “Battle E” awards as XO and CO. He accumulated over 5500 Flight hours and over 900 carrier landings. Rocco moved to Corpus Christi in July of 1994 as Commanding Officer of NASCC and was proud to call it home.
He married his wife of 46 years on March 4, 1972. Rocco was the executive director of U.S.S. Lexington Museum on the Bay for 20 years. He was a loving husband and father, who enjoyed participating in the Corpus Christi Mustangs, Corpus Christi Housing Authority, and Corpus Christi Rotary. He will always be remembered for his fantastic sense of humor, service to his country and community, love of sports, and exceptional devotion to his family. He played golf, basketball, and loved to garden.
Captain Montesano is survived by his wife, Joanne Montesano, son, Michael Montesano, daughter, Dr. Cariann Galloway, his sisters: Sue Connolly and Rosanne Rotondo; his brothers: Joe, Charlie, Jimmy, and Roy Montesano; son-in-law, Clint Galloway; Grandchildren: Kyleigh and Kase Galloway.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like donations sent to the U.S.S. Lexington Museum in his honor at https://usslexington.com/donate-to-lex/ (click on the link to this site on the bottom of this page under DONATIONS USS Lexington which is underlined in teal).
Condolences may be offered at www.cagemillsfuneraldirectors.com
- Joanne Montesano, Wife
- Michael Montesano, Son
- Cariann Galloway, Daughter
- Clint Galloway, Son-in-law
- Sue Connolly, Sister
- Rosanne Rotondo, Sister
- Joe Montesano, Brother
- Charlie Montesano, Brother
- Jimmy Montesano, Brother
- Roy Montesano, Brother
- Kyleigh Galloway, Grandchild
- Kase Galloway, Grandchild
Learn more about the Montesano name
- USS Lexington
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Frank "Rocco" Montesano
January 10, 2020
Joanne and family; I know I am a day late and a dollar short on sending my condolences. I have only just heard of Rocco's passing from an A-6 comrade. I will never forget our time in Japan and NAS Oceana together. Rocco was such a great mentor to me. He also got (very) even with me for when Mike Becknell and I got you (Joanne) hammered at the O'club at Atsugi (sorry, fun memory). But that's another story.
Although we haven't seen each other (you, Rocco, myself) for many years, I will always have the fondest memories and the deepest respect for you (both). God bless you and your family. God bless Rocco. Norm
June 18, 2018
CAPT Montesano was my commanding officer when I made Chief Petty Officer in 1995 at Corpus Christi NAS. He played his role expertly and with a great sense of humor. I remember once me and another Chief Selectee were call to his office. Of course we scrambled front and center as order. He inspected our CPO Selectee charge books and of course, nothing was in proper order and so, fined us each $50 (payable to the Chief's Mess of course). He then commented on the title of our books that had the words, "Chief Selectee". He looked squarely in my eyes and said in a loud voice, "Chief Selectee???? Give me a break! Do you know what they call Captain selectees in the Navy?" Of course, I answered, "No Sir." And, he said, "Commander!" I dare not laugh. He then invited us to smartly get the #### out of his office. So we did, post-hast. It was a moment that I knew he was a great man and an outstanding Commanding Officer. I will miss you, Captain! Fair Winds and Following Sea my friend.
May 3, 2018
When Frank was a Firstie, I was a plebe at USNA in Frank's company, my classmates and I found Frank to be a great role model of professionalism and a great person. My condolences on your monumental loss. My prayers are with you all. Mick Keville USNA '74
May 2, 2018
I reported on board VA 176 as Command Master Chief after serving twenty years in Submarines. This was my first CMC tour and Rocco was my first Skipper. We shared almost the same birth date as mine was 26 July 1949. He being from New Jersey and me from Long Island, New York we shared some age, background, and we worked together very well. During my three years as a member of the T Bolts, we won three Battle E awards. I used to say it was because I was there, but we all know it was the outstanding men of the squadron who earned the award and a great leader like "Rocco". I am just sorry I did not get to spend more time serving with him. He will be missed by all who knew him. He was one of the best. Dave and Donna Farrugia
April 30, 2018
I was serving on the Board of Directors of the relatively new USS Lexington Museum on the Bay with Bob Lacy when we learned that Rocco was to retire from the Navy. We could not have moved any faster to go out to NAS Corpus Christi to tell Rocco who we thought should lead the museum into its future. There are decisions you know are right, but I did not know just how right until yesterday when Linda and I drove down from Austin to attend the beautiful memorial service presented by Rocco's loving family. I wish to second Juan Garcia's comment. Rocco was indeed the quintessential "officer and a gentleman." Gary Bushell
April 28, 2018
I would just like to say the Captain was the best C.O. I ever had the pleasure to serve under. His dedication to duty,respect he shared to the goats locker and the base left a huge impression on my life and my military service . He was truly a sailors sailor. I give massive respect and love for a man that gave his all daily in a caring and friendly attitude. I was a better sailor for knowing him and very sorry to hear of his passing. I pray God keep all the family and friends in His mighty grip as they mourn the loss if a great man. U.S.N Retired Senior Chief
April 27, 2018
To Joanne and Family,
I just want to express my deepest sympathies for your loss. "Rocco" was truly the best CO I ever had in my career in the Navy. There were so many occasions while he was serving as the CO of NAS Corpus Christi that I had the distinct honor of observing first hand his leadership and skill in motivating the sailors around him. However, one occasion stands out in my memory that I would like to share.
We had just returned from flying one afternoon and we were informed that CNATRA was extremely upset at something I was accused of doing. During our walk over to the admiral's office, I racked my brain on exactly what it was that might have angered the admiral.
We're neighbors upset from a surrounding school, where we had just taken a helicopter, fire truck, working dog team and ambulance into the playground during a school visit program? A program designed by Rocco to encourage kids to stay in school.
Or, was it from the past weekend where we had hosted 150 civilian shooters at the skeet range for a fund raiser for MWR. I could see the admiral's concern with so many unregistered guns on the base at one time.
Or, was it the fact that we had borrowed the C-12 for a "Training Mission" to pick up all the free skeet and trap machines from North Island to replace our own equipment?
There were endless possibilities, but as we both walked into the admiral's office we were as they say "out of Airspeed, Altitude and Ideas".
To my amazement, the admiral's concerns had nothing to do with us at all. After Rocco presented his case, as it turns out, it was just a "misunderstanding". Rocco was truly a gifted speaker. I never had to say a word but I did have to bite my lip to keep from smiling.
On our walk back to Rocco's office he just looked at me and said "Mike, if you want to stay as PAO, you might not want to make this a habit". I then turned to him and said " Damn Rocco, You Should Run for Mayor"
Rocco by far was not only a GREAT CO but a True friend.
April 18, 2018
I want to add my condolences here. I am Mike West, who rowed for the Univ. of Pennsylvania. In the spring of 1968, Frank and I were rowing counterparts... I rowed in the 5-seat of the heavy Penn Frosh boat and Frank was the 5-man in the Navy heavy Plebe boat. I still have the three Navy racing shirts I took from him that year, and all these years later I still recall meeting/talking to Frank on the dock of Hubbard Hall after the race. I also chose "Navy" as a career (was a destroyer guy), and I'd track down/call Frank every 5 years or so, or whenever I saw his name in the message traffic or on a promotion list. I always held him in the highest esteem, not only for his success in rowing (his '71 Navy varsity crew was GREAT), but also, as the son of a career naval aviator, for his flying exploits (interestingly, one of Frank's midshipman cruises was on the USS ESSEX, a carrier my father commanded, though not when Frank was aboard...small world, indeed.) Perhaps a year ago, I re-established comms with Frank to propose a photo project involving LEXINGTON that I've been working on in my mind for years, and he was totally forthcoming with his intent to support the project. Frank, I will miss not ever being able to talk to you again, to trade rowing and flying stories, but I know you're flying with the angels now and showing 'em how. Thank you for your dedication and service to the Naval Service and the Nation.
April 18, 2018
I extend my sincere heartfelt compassion and prayers to the Montesano's family. Take comfort in knowing the CAPT is in eternal rest from all his military and community "over the top" service to our grateful nation; especially the past 20 years as CEO of USS LEXINGTON, Historical Museum on the Bay. It was my honor and pleasure of meeting and sharing with Captain Montesano twice during our ship reunion visits on board...LEX made Navy history as the first aircraft carrier to have female sailors assigned...in the initial group of women and I was the only enlisted black woman petty officer assigned to Lady LEX in Jul 1980. In 2007, my first time to return with the ship's reunion and was "over the moon" in tears upon seeing a display of a female uniform and my picture from the Navy Memorial Log, Washington, D.C. and other artifacts donated. Thanks CAPTAIN MONTESANO for your HUMANITARIANISM. A legacy indeed!
Daisy M. Morgan
Admin Div Jul 1980-Oct 1983
April 17, 2018
As Executive Officer, then Commanding Officer, of Attack Squadron 176, Rocco was one of the best leaders with whom I'd ever had the pleasure of serving. I kind-of knew it at the time, but didn't fully appreciate it until some time later. This was because his leadership style, while always professional, was so affable and natural, that he made it easy to work hard for him. You can read books on leadership, follow basic principles, and perhaps succeed, but Rocco didn't need that; I think those books are about him. He never inflicted power on us, and never put himself first; he inspired by setting the right example, always doing the right thing, taking care of his people, and just plain being a nice, decent human being. And one heck of a fun guy. I would say that the junior officers considered him, "one of us."
April 16, 2018
I have many great memories of Frank during our years rowing together on the Naval Academy crew team. He was an outstanding oarsman. I never heard him complain no matter how difficult our workouts were. He had an amazing sense of humor. I remember one afternoon the weather was terrible and most of us were grumbling. As we were lowering the boat into the water, Frank said, "It may be cold but at least it's raining." Cracked me up! The lousy conditions didn't change at all but my mood sure did. Frank had a very positive influence on me and was a great friend.
Joanne, we will continue to pray for you and your family. Please take time to share memories, laugh, cry, and comfort each other. Our hearts go out to you as you deal with his passing.
Mark and Ginni
April 16, 2018
I will always remember the great times we enjoyed in our squadron "glory days" as Naval Aviators! God bless you for your friendship.....
April 16, 2018
Thoughts and prayers to the Montesano family.
Thank you Rocco for you dedication and service to this Nation and community.
Fair winds and following Seas! We have the watch shipmate, you stand relieved.
Jerry Henry, ABFC(AW) Ret
April 16, 2018
The quintessential 'officer and gentleman.' Perfect example of a life well-lived, with selfless, quiet service to God, Family, and Country. A role model to all who knew him. Was an honor to know you Shipmate-
April 16, 2018
Dearest Joanne and Montesano Family,
Thank you for sharing your wonderful Rocco with our community. He has left his positive and hard working hand print all over our community and in many hearts. Rocco was quick to smile, share his storehouse of knowledge and give encouraging words. He was wise and compassionate which made him a very special man. I will miss my friend so much. My prayers are with you Montesano Family. The endless trail of beautiful memories will out last the tears. I love you familia.
Showers of God's Graces,
April 16, 2018
My family and I would like to offer our sympathies to the Montesano family. Please accept our heartfelt condolences on the loss of your loved one. May you always hold fond memories of Rocco's life with you.
Our deepest condolences.
April 16, 2018
Ron and I extend our heartfelt condolences to the Montesano family. What a legacy of commitment and love "Rocco" leaves for us all! May God provide comfort and peace to all who mourn the loss of this great man and hope in knowing that a blessed heavenly reunion will be held one fine day.
Peace be with you.
April 16, 2018
I am so sorry to hear about Rocco's death. I knew him through the Historic Naval Ships Assn. A great man! Fun, witty, and really smart, too. I called him many times for advice. We will miss him greatly.