Lt. Col. Frank Bryant, 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, Tenn., Lt. Col. 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.
Lt. Col. 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, he served at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.; Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea; Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.; and Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. 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. Lt. Col. Bryant was a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal (posthumously); Purple Heart (posthumously); Air Force Combat Action Medal (posthumously); Defense Meritorious Service Medal; the Meritorious Service Medal; the Air Medal, one oak leaf cluster; the Air Force Commendation Medal, one oak leaf clusters; 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, Tenn.; his older sister and brother-in-law, Amie and Bill Whitworth of Morristown, Tenn.; his younger brother, Raymond Bryant of Knoxville, Tenn.; his niece, Aubrey Whitworth of Morristown, Tenn.; and his large extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins spread throughout the United States.