Francis Frank Joseph Byrne

September 1, 1930January 16, 2014

Francis "Frank" J. Byrne. Loving husband, father and grandfather; loyal friend, decorated fighter pilot, corporate pilot, backyard mechanic, and golf enthusiast, Francis J. Byrne, Lt. Col. (ret.) USAF flew free to “touch the hand of God” on January 16, 2014. Frank, 83, was born in Bakersfield, California on September 1, 1930. One of five children born to John and Agnes Byrne, he is survived by his brother Tom. In 1953 Frank enlisted in the Air Force and qualified for pilot training as a cadet in the Tiger Program. Commended early for his “can do” spirit, flying skills and “top gun” proficiency bombing, he continued to lead a distinguished career as an F-100 fighter pilot and F-100 instructor pilot. He was a test pilot of the F-104, reaching speeds of Mach II. Frank stood Victor Alert in England during the Cold War. He volunteered and flew more than 100 missions over Hanoi during the Viet Nam conflict and was decorated with the “Distinguished Flying Cross” and many other honors. Upon retiring from the Air Force in May of 1973, Frank flew for the Forestry Service and corporations and continued to fly for a fixed-base operation at the Carefree Airport until 1990. Dearest Frank, your easy, cheerful camaraderie and the twinkle in your eyes will be deeply missed. The lives of your wife of 55 years, Nancy “Nan”, daughter Jenna, granddaughter Aavyn, extended family and so many friends are forever enriched and blessed that your life touched theirs. A memorial service with military honors will be held on Saturday, January 25th at 1:00 PM at Shadow Mountain Mortuary, 2350 E Greenway Rd., Phoenix. In lieu of flowers, donations in Frank’s memory can be made to: Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, 901 E. Willetta St., Phoenix AZ, 85006, or Hospice of The Valley, 1510 E. Flower St., Phoenix, AZ 85014. Please go to to share condolences with the family.


  • Memorial Service Saturday, January 25, 2014

Francis Frank Joseph Byrne

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February 10, 2014

The Cactus Starfighter Squadron mourns the loss of a fellow fighter pilot and friend. We will keep Frank in our memories and his family in our prayers.
Charlie Boettcher, LtCol (ret.) German Air Force
Regional Commander CSS

Robert Benedetto

February 8, 2014

Dearest Nancy: It was so good to speak with you over the phone. Dolly, Kathy and I wish you all the blessings your heart can manage. Frank was a wonderful man and I know a great husband. Our memories of him will remain with us forever. Don't forget, you have friends here in Pennsylvania who think of you often. Please stay safe until next we speak. Love you, Dolly Nelson and Bob and Kathy Benedetto.

John Byrne

February 5, 2014

Dear Nan, Jenna, and Aavyn, My heart goes out to you for the loss of your husband, father, grandfather, and my revered Uncle Frank. I still remember flying in his airplane through Canyon Lake, and his courageous tales of fighting MIG's over Vietnam. He was one of the greatest men I have ever known. God rest his soul. With love in this difficult time, John Anthony Byrne.

Michael Byrne Jr.

February 3, 2014

Dear Aunt Nancy and Jenna. I was so sad to hear about Uncle Frank's passing. The memories I have of Uncle Frank are indeed good ones. From the house visits he made during the Vietnam days to the Ireland reunion trip in 2005, Uncle Frank was always a gentleman and was always interested in what any one had to say. He will be missed. God Bless you ladies during this difficult time.

Lisa Byrne

January 27, 2014

Dear Aunt Nancy, Jenna and Aavyn, Please accept my humble condolences for your loss. His true blue character set the bar high in the best way and his style will always be a deep inspiration to me. I will always be proud to say he was my Uncle Frank. He was my favorite Uncle. Rest in Peace.

Carol Durkin

January 26, 2014

Nan-- we send you our love and sympathy . Frank was a wonderful man, and we loved getting to see him often out on his walks or visiting the neighborhood horses with Aavyn. I will always remember his deep voice! Please know we are as close as the phone -- love Mike & Carol Durkin

Jerry Grimmonpre

January 25, 2014

It is difficult to read about fellow fighter pilots leaving the formation. Frank was in a sister squadron at Itazuke Air Base flying the F100 in the late 1950's. He was admired as a go-get'em pilot. We'll all be together again one day.

Diane Vaszily

January 25, 2014

This is a very hard time, Nan, but you have so many wonderful memories. Every time I came over, Frank wanted to play his Big Band music. Whenever I hear that great big band music, I think of Frank! I'm sure you do too. Just switch on the tape player and he'll be right by your side, where he has always been! Hugs and love to you!

Linda brockman

January 25, 2014

Dear Nan & family,

We are so very sorry for you loss and will always be here for you Nan.
Know that we care. You and Frank were/are wonderful neighbors and friend.
Glenn & Linda Brockman

January 23, 2014

I am so sad to learn of Frank's death. Frank and I were in the same F100 squadron together in the mid 1950s.In my memories from Itazuke air Base Japan, Frank Byrne is a dashing , handsome , motorcycle riding bachelor hot shot Fighter Pilot. The kind of man that we more senior married hot shot Fighter Pilots envied a bit. I treasure those memories of flying in the same sky with Frank. I hope somewhere, sometime we may fly together again. My sincere condolences to his family and friends. C. Blair Hennessey (Colonel USAF, Retired) Saint Petersburg, Florida