28 February 1941 – The Republic F-84 Thunderjet was an American turbojet fighter-bomber aircraft. Originating as a 1944 United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) proposal for a “day fighter”, the F-84 first flew in 1946. Although it entered service in 1947, the Thunderjet was plagued by so many structural and engine problems that a 1948
Robert Duane Franke
“Even as a little boy, Bob wanted to fly airplanes. He realized and lived out that dream by starting his career in the Indiana Air National Guard as an Airman Basic in 1959, early on receiving his direct commission and becoming a fighter pilot, serving a total of 37 1/2 years. During his flying career, he flew the T-37, T-38, F-84F, F-100 (C, D and Fs), F-4 C and E, and the F-16C.
He attained the rank of Colonel and Wing Director of Operations for the 122nd Tactical Fighter Wing based out of Ft. Wayne, IN. In his last three years of service, Bob was on the front line of the war on drugs in Washington D.C., becoming the director of the counter-drug enforcement division for the Guard. His awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, and many more.
Shortly after his retirement in 1996, Bob and Carolyn moved to Greenback, TN, where he was once again called into leadership and service. In the public sector, Bob served three terms as Loudon County Commissioner and, later, on the board of TASS. For his church, First Presbyterian of Greenback, TN, Bob served as Elder, Sunday school teacher and Corporate President. He continued to scratch his flying itch by hanging with other “flight jocks” as a charter member of the Quiet Birdmen Hanger at McGhee Tyson Airport. In all of these activities, he brought humor, a genuine Christian love for others, and a warm “orneriness” that made all who came into contact with him not only like him, but feel better.”