Frank Barancik was fresh out of high school and looking for an adventure when he joined the newly formed U.S. Air Force in 1948.
On Monday as the nation observes Memorial Day, he’ll celebrate his 90th birthday.
“I enjoyed being in the Air Force,” he said. “At the time I joined, the Air Force was only about a year old and we still wore Army uniforms. We got the blue uniforms in 1949.”
Barancik served in the Air Force from 1948 to 1969. Although he doesn’t spend much time dwelling on his service years, he said the experience was the “highlight of my life.”
He was a teen living on a farm in Michigan when he felt the urge to join the military.
“I always wanted to fly and I wanted to travel,” he said. “I wanted adventure, but I also wanted to get off the farm.”
Barancik served as a logistician. The job took him all over the world.
“I was newly married and a newly commissioned officer when I was sent to Greenland to spend a year at the polar ice caps,” he said.
At the time, Thule Air Base was being developed and Barancik battled temperatures that sometimes dipped to 70 below zero.
“It was a good assignment but it was cold,” Barancik said. “I did a lot of reading and thinking. But I was newly wed at the time, and being away from my wife was difficult.”
In the years following his time in the Arctic, Barancik had posts around the globe including in France, Germany, Iceland and various spots in the U.S.
“We lived all over the world,” said his daughter, Kristi Cole. “He had quite a career.”
While in the Air Force, Barancik went to officer school and rose through the ranks. He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a master’s degree in logistics.
He earned a pilot’s license in 1951.
“Learning to fly was something that I always wanted to do,” he said.
During his years of military service, he said he saw the U.S. Air Force develop from a new branch of the armed forces to a modern, highly technical one.
He retired in 1969 and later became a purchasing agent for the state of Arizona. He also became a real estate agent and broker and started a real estate firm.
Barancik will celebrate his 90th birthday with a cake and surrounded by family.
“I’ve been blessed in my life,” Barancik said. “I’ve had so many opportunities and I was so proud to serve my country.”