Capt. Franklin Harl Sanders, USN, Retired, 86 of Fernandina Beach, FL, a decorated Naval officer and former Captain with Midway Airlines passed away peacefully on February 8, 2019. He will be remembered as a dedicated service man and a loving husband and father. He was a leader of men and a consummate family man.
Dad loved his family deeply, we knew that above all else.
He was the kid of dad who got on the floor and played with the kids until they were tired. He was the kind of dad who gave the keys to his other car after one was wrecked. He was the kind of dad who came to visit his grandkids with his toolbox in the car, ready for home improvement projects his kids desired.
Born and raised in Cardin, Oklahoma, his dreams of flight took him around the world through military service to our country in the US Navy. Dad did amazing things in his naval career, leading squadrons of men and planes on missions during the Vietnam War as well as in times of peace. We will never stop marveling that Dad’s aircraft would be launched into the sky off an aircraft carrier to fly his missions after which he found his way back to that floating home base in the middle of the ocean landing his airplane on that impossibly tiny surface.
His 24-year Naval career included multiple tours aboard the aircraft carrier USS Bennington, flying combat missions and serving as a Landing Signal Officer. Some of the high points of his Naval career were becoming a “Plank Owner” four times, commissioning two Naval aviation squadrons, VR-52 and VR- 57. He served his final tour of duty in the Pentagon.
His awards included the Navy Meritorious Service medal, four Air Medals, two Navy Commendation Medals, a Navy Achievement Medal, National Defense Medal for Vietnam Service, and the Navy Expeditionary Medal.
His service took our family to duty stations across the country. We made dear friends in Hawaii, California, Michigan, Louisiana, Washington DC, Chicago and finally Florida. Of the many gifts Dad gave us, these friendships are among the most precious.
When he retired from the Navy, it was to start another career as an airline captain for Midway Airlines out of Chicago. Flying for Midway afforded him the chance to share his travels with mom. He delighted in showing her the world.
Dad and mom made their last and best home in Amelia Island, Florida. For the past 27 years, they worked together tirelessly gardening their oasis, creating a home his three kids, seven grandkids, and five great grandkids would walk over broken glass to get to. Dad spent his days in his workshop playing with “good wood” he collected until Alzheimer’s disease prevented him from doing so.
AD is a cruel disease. Robbed of many memories, Dad never forgot what was most important to him — his family. In his lowest moments he wanted to return to Oklahoma to care for his parents, he wanted to know when his “babies” were coming home and wanted to save his dinner in case they showed up. But AD will only be a footnote in his life. He will be remembered for his deep devotion to family and country.
What did he teach us? Your family is the foundation from which you launch out into the world and no matter where they are, find your way back to them like our dad and that aircraft carrier.
Rest in peace, Dad. We love you and miss you.
Left behind are his Miami, OK high school sweetheart and wife of 66 years, Emma Jo (Jones) and their three married children, Paul Sanders of Yulee, Jonita Cerabino of Boca Raton, Lee Else of Atlanta and seven wonderful grandchildren and five precious great grandchildren.
Family and friends will gather to celebrate and memorialize his life on June 7, 2019 at 2pm at the Jacksonville National Cemetery, where he will be interred following full military honors.
In lieu of flowers the family would prefer contributions be made in his name to Community Hospice Jane and Bill Warner Center for Care on Amelia Island where he received end of life care.