Picture on the right: The crew of Super 64 a month before the battle in Somalia. From left: Tommy Field, Bill Cleveland, Ray Frank and Mike Durant.
Army Aviation Hall of Fame 1995 Induction
CW4 Raymond A. Frank epitomized the spirit of the Army Aviation Warrant Officer. Enlisting in the Army at the age of 17, he served three tours in RVN both as a ground combatant and helicopter door gunner. Attending flight school in 1974, CW4 Frank served in a wide variety of assignments including pilot, instructor pilot, standardization instructor, maintenance officer, and operations officer. His special place in the annals of Army Aviation, however, was earned as a result of his skill and enthusiasm as a pilot and his indomitable spirit as a patriot, one for whom duty, honor and country were a way of life and not merely a slogan.
He was one of the first to become an instructor in air-to-air tactics and his contributions in the development for future Comanche ACM capabilities continue to shape both hardware and doctrine.
In 1990, CW4 Frank received a Broken Wing Award as a result of his superb handling of a night mission mechanical failure in an MH-60. His skill and composure saved the lives of eight soldiers; however, he was left with severely fractured vertebrae and a shattered knee. Overcoming the medical odds that he would never fly again, CW4 Frank was assigned as a Night Stalker in TF 160 in 1990. During this period he achieved full mission qualification, Standardization Instructor Pilot and Joint Mission Planner status. In August 1993, CW4 Frank deployed to Somalia with Joint Task Force Ranger.
CW4 Frank deployed as a member of a Flight Lead crew whose responsibility it was to plan and lead special operations combat assaults. He conducted seven highly successful assaults; many during daylight, deep in enemy-territory. He provided great leadership to the aviators and was particularly respected for his advice on the employment of armed and assault helicopters in an urban environment. When his teammate was shot down, he was called for assistance.
While providing protective fires, his aircraft was hit by an RPG. Realizing that the tail rotor had separated, he autorotated to a safe landing in the city. Surviving the crash with tremendous injury to his back he egressed from the helicopter and assumed a fighting position in the urban downtown sprawl of Mogadishu known as the Black Sea. He was killed in action on October 3, 1993 while defending his fellow Night Stalkers and ground force members of TF Ranger in the vicinity of his crashed MH-60 SOF assault helicopter. One member, CW3 Michael Durant, was taken POW and eventually released. CW4 Frank received the Silver Star for his gallantry at the crash site.
The most deserving recognition for Ray Frank is to be memorialized as a member of the AAAA Hall of Fame. For truly in death, he will continue to serve as an inspiration to all Army aviators well into the 21st century.