In August 1956, Franklin A. Gulledge, Jr. started his aviation career in Pensacola, FL as a Naval Aviation Cadet. Since then he has been a helicopter pilot, a vice-president of a bank and a flight instructor. According to Frank, “Life has been good to me and I wish to repay.” Frank's repayment plan is an excellent example of what service to others is all about.
In April 1958, Frank became a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps where he spent twenty years as a helicopter pilot. His service to his country included several overseas assignments and one tour of combat duty during the Vietnam Conflict where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and 34 Air Medals (Strike Flight Awards). After retiring in 1978, Major Gulledge became the executive vice-president of a local bank in the Louisville, KY area. A short time later, he returned to aviation, becoming a civilian flight instructor.
Frank is still a flight instructor today principally training private pilots to become instrument rated. He works out of Addington Field in Elizabethtown near his home in Brandenburg, Kentucky. He lives with his wife, Gail who, according to Frank, “has been supportive of me for many, many years.” She has been his most avid supporter first as a Marine Corps pilot and now as an Angel Flight pilot.
Frank believes strongly in the Angel
Flight program and flies missions as often
as his schedule allows. He is based out of the
Mid-Atlantic regional office (www.angel-flight.org)
whose mission is "...to ensure that no finan-
cially needy patient is denied access to
distant specialized medical evalua- tion, diagnosis,
treatment, or rehabilitation for lack of
a means of long distance medical air
transportation." In addition to their medical related
flights, Mid-Atlantic Angel Flight pilots have been and still are
assisting with hurricane relief efforts by bringing
relief workers into damaged regions while
relocating displaced persons to areas with suitable
housing and reu- niting them with their families.
When asked to describe his most memorable Angel Flight mission or patient, Frank replied, “They are all memorable patients and I have yet to transport somebody who was not very appreciative of Angel Flight.”
Most long missions are broken into two or three legs to make the journeys more affordable for pilots, both in time and flight costs, which each pilot pays for himself. Frank often takes on entire missions, allowing the patient to avoid changing planes and possibly reaching their destination sooner. He often stays overnight and brings patients back the next day.
Angel Flight is only one way Frank serves others. Since retiring from the Marine Corps, he has been a trustee for Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. He studied for two years at Lincoln before joining the military and was asked by the university to serve as a trustee shortly after retiring from the Marine Corps.
In addition to serving as a trustee and flying for Angel Flight, Frank main- tains two websites that honor special groups of servicemen: Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364, otherwise known as the world famous Purple Foxes and The Warriors of Hill 881S. Frank flew as a member of the Purple Fox helicopter squadron in Vietnam and was first asked to serve as the group’s historian and webmaster several years ago. Despite no formal training, Frank took on the challenge and learned web design “on the job,” creating (www.hmm-364.org) to honor his fellow Purple Fox Marines.
He did such a wonderful job with the Purple Fox site that he was contacted by Colonel William H. Dabney, USMC (Ret) who wanted to honor his men in a similar fashion. Frank flew to visit him and they discussed how Colonel Dabney’s men had held Hill 881S during siege of Khe Sanh, one of the fiercest battles of the Vietnam War. Frank agreed to create the site and main- tain it (www.hmm-364.org/warriors.html) for the same fee he charged the Purple Foxes—nothing.
Frank serves others in many ways. He says, “I feel good about doing it.” When asked what advice he would give pilots who might be considering Angel Flight as part of their own “repayment plan,” Frank said, “Absolutely do it. Don’t worry about contributing a lot of time. Even if you can only do three or four flights per year, do it.”
Maj. Gulledge's History Index
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