OBITUARY

Captain Roland Michael Franklin, U.S. Navy (Retired)

June 1, 1950February 17, 2021

Captain Roland Michael "Mike" Franklin, U.S. Navy (retired), died on February 17, 2021. Franklin lived a fulfilling life as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot, son, brother, husband, father, and grandfather. He loved flying fighter jets, spending time at the beach, watching University of Alabama football, and listening to music.

Mike Franklin was born on June 1, 1950, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and was the eldest of three. He graduated from Jacksonville High School in Jacksonville, Alabama in 1968, became a United States Naval Academy graduate in 1972, and earned his Masters of Science (Mathematics) from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California in 1973. He went on to serve in the U.S. Navy spending many of his years there as a F-14 fighter pilot. “Mikey” was his call sign which he carried forward into one of his most favorite roles of his lifetime – grandfather. He was affectionately referred to as “GrandDaddy Mikey” by his granddaughter and signed all his communications with her with “YLGDM” which means “Your Loving GrandDaddy Mikey.” While in the U.S. Navy, he served in various leadership roles, but he loved flying the fighter jets most. Early in his career, he was cited for his heroism in aerial flights while serving with Fighter Squadron 102 with the USS America. His squadron was assigned combat air patrol during Freedom of Navigation operations in the Gulf of Sidra. During one mission, Franklin’s airplane was fired upon, which later became known as the first known SA-5 surface-to-air missile launch against U.S. Forces off the coast of Libya. He successfully detected and avoided the missiles. Days later, he participated in a joint services night strike on Tripoli, Libya – an enemy that was numerically stronger. His aircraft served as a decoy and helped ensure that the strike group was able to successfully place their ordnance on target and exit safely. These efforts led to Franklin receiving two Navy Commendation Medals. Although much of his career was spent in Virginia Beach, Virginia, he ultimately retired out of Point Mugu Naval Air Station in 2000 after serving over 28 years.

Franklin married Nancy Manar on July 21, 1973 after a brief courtship, much of which was spent in a long-distance relationship. In 2020, they celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary in Destin, Florida, one of their favorite places to be. Together, they had two children and one granddaughter. The Franklins moved seven times throughout their Navy life and ultimately retired in Birmingham, Alabama. Following retirement from the U.S. Navy, Franklin worked for Accenture until 2006.

Retirement from the U.S Navy came just as their two children were finishing up their college years at the University of Alabama and although the University was not Franklin’s alma mater, he was committed to supporting Alabama’s football team. He was a season ticket holder and known to travel to games across the country.

Franklin is survived by his wife, Nancy Manar Franklin; son, J.E.B. Michael Franklin; daughter, Quinn Manar Franklin; granddaughter, Susanna Lane Franklin Fegen; and sister, Rhonda Franklin Harrison (John). He was predeceased by his father, Betrum Eugene Franklin; mother, Mary Nell Franklin; and brother, John "Butch" Mark Franklin.

In support of his wishes, Franklin’s life will be honored privately with immediate family.

Please consider gifts, with the designation "In Memory of Roland Michael 'Mike' Franklin," to the USNA’s Class of 1972 project via https://www.usna.com/give or www.bit.ly/72AAFpledge.

Memories

Captain Roland Michael Franklin, U.S. Navy (Retired)

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Chris Heath

February 25, 2021

I was Mike’s roommate at USNA for 4 years and we shared many adventures together. I came to know his family and we raised small children together as young officers. I remember Mike as a diligent and brilliant student – regularly on the Dean’s List academically – and he loved his family. He was passionate about flying, Alabama football, fitness, and other things that came later in life. Best wishes to Nancy, Quinn, Jeb, and Mike’s other family and loved ones – Chris Heath USNA ‘72

Robert La Chance

February 24, 2021

Rest amoung the clouds skipper

Ro Thornburg

February 24, 2021

Captain Mike Franklin was a true friend. He was so kind to me as an awkward kid growing up in Jacksonville and always included me in everything. My dad loved him like he was his own son. Our families were so close throughout the years. I still keep a picture of Mike, his mom, and my mom with me. He had so many accomplishments in his personal life and in the Navy. He is my true-life hero. He will be missed.

Rodney Shanner

February 24, 2021

Mike Franklin was my First Cousin. As children we called him, "Mikey", and his bother, "Butchy", who also graduated from the Naval Academy. Everywhere I went I bragged on having these two Naval graduates as my cousins. Each of them flew F-14 Tomcats, Mikey a Pilot and Butchy a RIO. So sorry to learn of his passing. Prayers for the family.

Clay “Skip” Sayers

February 24, 2021

“Mikey” was a good friend, peerless professional and skilled fighter pilot. I still remember his unique skill of filling his coffee cup to the absolute brim without spilling a drop. Little memories like this and his refusal to drink milk, will always make me smile. RIP shipmate!

Greg Marcus

February 23, 2021

Back when I was in grade school and on the swim team with Jeb, Mr. Franklin (as I knew him) was kind enough to loan me an old flight suit to wear for Halloween one year. It was the best Halloween costume I ever had and a real thrill to wear, and fortunately foreshadowed my own future wearing flight suits of my own. Thank you again.

Greg Marcus, Maj, USAF

Mark & Trina Cook

February 23, 2021

I was sitting on the beach at Destin on a cold, gray, wind day. About the only other person out there was this long white haired dude. We got to chatting. We chatted through 2 storms for several hours. My wife Trina came down to the beach to check on me about the same time Nancy came down to check on Mike. I believe it was 2006. Since that day we have vacationed with Mike and Nancy every year. I loved listening to Mike tell all his stories about his days as a fighter pilot. Thanks for all the memories. It was a honor to have known you. We love you Nancy !!!!

Michael & Judy Harder

February 22, 2021

Our thoughts & prayers are with all of you! We have many cherished memories tailgating with y’all Nancy! May God bring each of you His peace & consolation in this time of sorrow!
Mikey, may you Rest In Peace!
Love & Peace,
Mike & Judy Harder

Tom Smith

February 22, 2021

As a co-worker at Accenture and a fellow Bama fan, I have many great memories of Mikey. My prayers are with the Franklin family for great peace and comfort during this time of bereavement.

Barry & Lynnette Clemmons

February 22, 2021

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Franklin family during this difficult time. We treasure the memories of Mike as a fantastic neighbor and friend.

FROM THE FAMILY