It was a proud day recently for Francis Hendricks, a 1974 graduate of Jersey Shore High School when he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the United States Air Force at a ceremony witnessed by happy relatives and friends at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church Social Hall in Bastress Township.
“This is an unbelievably emotional and proud day for me to have my family and friends be a part of this special milestone for me,” Hendricks said. “I feel I have been blessed with great timing and a lot of luck.”
The military service has been a family tradition for Hendricks. His late father James retired as a sergeant major and was a veteran of three wars, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
General Hendricks was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and was one of four children adopted by James and Mary Hendricks.
After graduating from Mansfield State College in 1979, he went into the Air Force and entered its officer training program and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1980.
He had various postings in the Air Force the most notable being his command of the largest installation in the Air Force, Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, as commander of the 96th Air Base Wing. He was also Study Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in Washington, D.C.
“It means so much to see Fran receive his star in front of family and friends he is really proud to be from the Nippenose Valley,” Hendricks’ wife, Consuelo, said.
Bill Albright taught General Hendricks math at Jersey Shore High School and drove all the way from Grove City, in the western part of the state to witness the ceremony.
“Fran is a great guy and he was a very good student. He was the head statistician for the basketball team in high school and did a great job at it,” Albright said. “I wouldn’t have missed this day for anything. It is great to see someone from the Valley meet with such success. He really deserves it and he worked hard for it.”
Hendricks made it a point to introduce all of his relatives that were on hand, including those of many aunts, uncles and cousins. He said that several of the uncles were veterans “who served their country honorably:” and were an inspiration to him.
His new assignment will take him to Dallas, Texas as the vice commander of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which administers what used to be called post exchanges or PXs. He said he is looking forward to the challenges of his new assignment.
Hendricks’ promotion ceremony was presided over by Michael Dominguez, Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.