Charles Francis was born on May 22, 1920, in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on December 3, 1940, and served as an aircraft maintenance technician at Barksdale Field, Louisiana; at Kelly Field, Texas; and at Harlingen Army Air Field, Texas, from December 1940 until he entered Officer Candidate School on September 8, 1942. He was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Army Air Forces on December 9, 1942, and then served as a Technical Inspector from December 1942 to November 1943. Lt Francis next attended pilot training, and was awarded his pilot wings on February 28, 1945; followed by B-17 Flying Fortress Combat Crew Training. After serving as a B-17 pilot from February 1945 to January 1946, Lt Francis served as an Air Traffic Service Officer from January 1946 until he briefly left active duty from August 22 to November 1, 1950. His next assignment was as an Assistant Aircraft Maintenance Officer, Maintenance Officer, and Flight Maintenance Officer with the 1700th Maintenance Squadron at Kelly AFB and Brooks AFB, Texas, from November 1950 to October 1951, followed by service as a Maintenance Officer with the 1737th Ferrying Squadron at Kelly AFB from October 1951 to August 1952. Capt Francis served briefly with Headquarters Continental Division of Military Air Transport Service at Brooks AFB from August 1952 to January 1953, and then served as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer with Headquarters 58th Fighter-Bomber Wing at Taegu AB, South Korea, from January to July 1953; and then deployed to Itazuke AB, Japan, from July 1953 to January 1954. His next assignment was as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer and Field Maintenance Officer with the 514th Maintenance Squadron and then the 475th Maintenance Squadron at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, with Air Defense Command, from January 1954 to March 1956. He attended the Jet Qualification Course at Craig AFB, Alabama, from March to May 1956, and then Fighter Interceptor Training at Tyndall AFB, Florida, from June to November 1956. Maj Francis served as an F-86D Sabre and F-89 Scorpion interceptor pilot and Flight Test Maintenance Officer with the 54th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, from November 1956 to August 1958, followed by service as an F-89 interceptor pilot and Director of Maintenance with the 29th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, from August 1958 to October 1960. His final assignment was as an Aircraft Maintenance Staff Officer with Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe at Lindsey AS, West Germany, from October 1960 until he was killed in an aircraft accident while flying a T-33 Shooting Star near Hahn AB, West Germany, on December 5, 1961. Maj Francis was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He was first married to June Loretta Beck and together they had two children - Dick and Larry Francis. He later married Mary Ellen Bannister, and they had four children - Barry, Candy, Pam, and Melody Francis.
His Air Medal Citation reads:
Captain Charles L. Francis distinguished himself by meritorious service
while participating in aerial flight as a pilot of a C-47 aircraft, 58th Fighter
Bomber Wing, Fifth Air Force, from 15 February 1953 to 15 May 1953.
Captain Francis volunteered for many hazardous missions during both
daylight and darkness and displayed proficient airmanship in flights
requiring operations through marginal weather. As a result of his
outstanding airmanship, devotion to duty, and complete disregard for his
own personal safety while flying over mountainous terrain, much needed
supplies and personnel have been transported to bases in Korea to further
their mission against the enemy. By his outstanding display of courage and
devotion to duty, Captain Francis has brought great credit upon himself and
the United States Air Force.