Kenneth Michael Francis, Lt. Colonel, USAF (Retired)
Kenneth Michael Francis, 53, of Corona, CA formerly of Goreville, IL passed away peacefully with his family by his side Friday, February 7, 2014 at the V.A. hospital in Loma Linda, CA.
He was born on February 28, 1960 in Yuma, AZ to Naomi Ilene Francis and the late Robert Lynn Francis. He married his soul mate, Sedef Tarlan, on October 29, 1992.
Kenneth was devoted to his family and his military career. He excelled in his military career and in academics. He graduated from the ROTC program with a B. S. in Business Economics from So. Illinois University-Carbondale in 1981. In addition, he has Master’s degrees in Public Administration and in Asian Studies.
He entered active duty in the U. S. Air Force in March 1982. His dream was to be a fighter pilot but an inner ear problem prevented him from realizing this dream. He did earn his private pilot’s license. He did a career change and joined the Office of Special Investigations (OSI). Some of the highlights of his career include: guarded President Reagan; lead security and intelligence programs for major international organizations: Department of Defense (DOD), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the United Nations (UN); created the Air Force’s Counter-Intelligence Collection Plan that guided the service’s collection efforts in Southeast Asia through the 1980’s; conducted two of DOD’s most sensitive clandestine penetrations of terrorist groups in 1984 to 1987; the most prolific Air Force Counter-Intelligence collector during DESERT STORM; negotiated the release of French hostages from armed guerrillas in the Western Sahara during the Paris-Grenada-Dakar rally; secured from rebel forces the airfield needed for the evacuation during the Protective Service Operation for deposed Philippine President Marcos and his entourage; responsible for the identification and capture of Turkish terrorists who assassinated a DOD contract employee during the first Gulf War, Chief Faction Liaison in Banja Luka, Republic of Srpska, Bosnia, and Chief Intelligence Analyst in Sarajevo, Bosnia.
Kenneth was the recipient of many awards including the: World-wide Counter-Intelligence Officer of the Year; Southwest & Southeast Asia Counter-Intelligence Officer and Southwest Asia Outstanding Field Officer of the Year; Northwestern U.S Investigator, Regional Manager and Outstanding Field Officer (twice) of the Year; Northrop Grumman Monetary Award for Superior Performance (twice) and numerous personal military decorations for superior performance including the Air Force Meritorious service medal.
He retired from the Air Force in 2007 after 25 years of service. At the time of his death, he was the Senior Aerospace Instructor at Norco High School JROTC in Norco, CA. He was greatly admired by his fellow instructors, students and their families.
In addition to his wife Sedef, Kenneth is survived by his children: Melissa Canan Francis and Selin Maria Francis of CA; Michael Ryan Francis (Beth), Jennifer Danielle Pulley (Greg) and Chad Andrew Francis (Brianna) of IL; Mother: Naomi Francis of IL; and siblings: Donna Lea Farris (Stuart) and Robert Mitchell Francis of IL. He was the grandfather of 5 grandchildren. In addition, he is survived by nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
He was preceded in death by his father, Robert Lynn Francis; sister, Sandra Lynne Francis Smith; and grandparents Tyrus Gordon and Lula Muriel Arrowood and Sam and Alphe Francis.
Church service will be held on Thursday, February 20, 2014 starting at 11:30 a.m. at East Hills Community Church (20660 Orange Terrace Parkway, Riverside, CA). Departure from the church will be at 1:15 p.m. Interment will be at 1:30 p.m. at Riverside National Cemetery. There will be a community celebration of Kenneth’s life at Nellie Weaver Hall (3737Crestview Drive, Norco, CA) from 4:00 p.m.—6:00 p.m. The celebration will be informal and casual.