Lieutenant Colonel Frank Diehl Bryant Jr. was one of eight Airmen who were killed April 27, 2011 at the Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He was assigned to the 56th Operations Group, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.

Airman praised for service, dedication
By Matt Lakin
Knoxville News Sentinel
Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lt. Col. Frank Bryant Jr. survived repeated bombing raids over Baghdad but died when a disgruntled Afghan pilot pulled a gun.

Bryant, 37, of Knoxville was the only Tennessean and the highest-ranking officer killed in Wednesday’s mass shooting at the airport in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul, military officials said Friday. Seven other airmen and an American civilian contractor died in the same shooting.

Bryant, a Karns High School graduate and former state wrestling champion, served with the Air Force’s 56th Operations Group and had been stationed in Afghanistan since June 2010, attached to the 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group. His fellow officers called the loss “devastating.”

“He excelled in everything he did and gave his life defending the nation he served for 16 years,” said Brig. Gen. Jerry D. Harris Jr., commander of the 56th.

Bryant graduated from Karns High in 1991 and brought home the state trophy that year. He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1995, where he was captain of the wrestling team and most valuable player.

“I’ve worked with a lot of kids, but he was one of my favorites,” said Wayne Baughman, who coached Bryant at the academy.

Bryant received his Air Force wings in 1997 and was assigned to the 56th in August 2007, stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Ariz. He received his commission as a lieutenant colonel in July while serving in Afghanistan as an adviser to the budding air force there.

Bryant had piloted an F-16 on more than a dozen bombing missions in Baghdad, Iraq, and supported a surprise raid aimed at Saddam Hussein. His decorations included the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Air Force Commendation Medals, and the Air Force Achievement Medal.

BRYANT, LT. COL. FRANK BRUISER, JR. – 37, a 16-year U. S. Air Force veteran, died in the line of duty April 27 during his deployment as an air advisor to the 438th Air Expeditionary Advisor Group in Kabul, Afghanistan. Born and raised in Knoxville, TN he attended Bonny Kate Elementary and Doyle Middle School. Lieutenant Colonel Bryant is a 1991 graduate of Karns High School where he was a champion wrestler, winning the Tennessee High School State Championship in that same year. He continued wrestling throughout his college career at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where, in 1995, he served as the team captain and was named most valuable player. After graduating from the academy in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in general engineering, he attended undergraduate pilot training and became a T-37 instructor pilot. Lieutenant Colonel Bryant went on to become a decorated F-16 pilot with 3,047 total flying hours, 121 of which were in combat. During his career, Lieutenant Colonel Bryant served at Columbus Air Force Base, MS; Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea; Shaw Air Force Base, SC; and Luke Air Force Base, AZ. He also served as an exchange pilot to the United Arab Emirates. In addition to his most recent deployment to Combined Joint Chiefs of Staff Afghanistan-Pakistan Hands Program as an air advisor to the 438th Air Expeditionary Advisor Group, he deployed in 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During his career, he earned his jump wings, senior pilot wings and a master’s degree in business administration and management from Touro University. In 2008, he won the 19th Air Force Air-to-Ground Fighter Pilot Instructor of the Year award and was named the 19th Air Force Top Instructor Fighter Pilot, receiving the Gen. William R. Looney III Award. Lieutenant Colonel Bryant was a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal posthumously, Purple Heart posthumously, Air Force Combat Action Medal posthumously, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, one oak leaf cluster, the Air Force Commendation Medal, one oak leaf cluster, the Air Force Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Air Force Outstanding Unit with valor device and two oak leaf clusters, Combat Readiness Medal, National Defense Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal posthumously, Non-Article 5 NATO Medal posthumously, Air Force Overseas Ribbon short and long, Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with Gold Border, one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Longevity Service, three oak leaf clusters, and the Air Force Training Ribbon. Lieutenant Colonel Frank D. Bryant Jr. is preceded in death by grandparents, Baker and Elizabeth Bryant and Robert and Elizabeth Bathe. He is survived by his wife and son, Janice H. Bryant and Sean L. Bryant of Arlington, VA his father, Frank D. Bryant, Sr. his mother, Patricia L. Bryant, both of Knoxville, TN his older sister and brother-in-law, Amie and Bill Whitworth of Morristown, TN his younger brother, Raymond Bryant of Knoxville, TN his niece, Aubrey Whitworth of Morristown, TN and his large extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins spread throughout the United States. The funeral service will be at Arlington National Cemetery, May 20, 1245 p.m., beginning at the Memorial Chapel on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. A reception will follow at the JBM-HH Officers’ Club. In addition, there are plans currently being arranged for a memorial service in the Knoxville area. Date and Time, TBA. The Bryant family express their gratitude for the outpouring of community support and asks for nothing more. Friends have continued to ask what they can do for the family. To address these requests, the Air Warrior Courage Foundation AWCF established a college fund for Colonel Bryant’s son.

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I am a East Tennessee native from Pigeon Forge, and a fellow U.S. Air Force Academy graduate from the Class of 1994. I met Frank at the East Tennessee Parents Club send-off prior to his entry to the Academy. We became instant friends and spoke frequently during the three years we attended the Academy together. I was devastated by his loss in the ambush at the Kabul airport, but it inspired me to volunteer for a deployment there prior to my retirement in 2012. The nation and the State of Tennessee lost a great leader on that day.
–Submitted by Louis D. Bryan

  • Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
  • Date of birth:
  • 13 August 1973
  • Date of death: 27 April 2011
  • County: Knox
  • Hometown: Knoxville
  • Service Branch: Air Force
  • Division/Assignment: 56th Operations Group
  • Conflict: Afghanistan
  • Awards: Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Air Force Commendation Medals, the Air Force Achievement Medal
  • Burial/Memorial Location: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA
  • Location In Memorial: Pillar XXV, Top Panel
  • Sponsored by: Louis D. Bryan

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