NO. 17992 • 9 May 1927 – 15 Oct 2007
Died in Auburn, CA
Cremated. Interred in the West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY
Frank E. Gaillard was born 9 May 1927 to COL Fred E. Gaillard and Kathryn Hall-Gaillard in Wichita, KS, at the hospital at the University of Kansas, where his father was the professor for military science and tactics. Frank traveled often during his younger years as his father was stationed at Ft. Monmouth, NJ, Ft. Benning, GA, Ft. Sam Houston, TX, the Philippines, Ft. McClellan, AL, and Camp Croft, SC. Frank treasured summers with his Aunt Amelia in a family home in Sewanee, TN. Franks father was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and served through World War II.
Frank attended high school at the Sewanee Military Academy, graduating in 1945. He entered the Marines and then went on to the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory unit at Amherst College. Frank was preceded at West Point by his great-cousin, David DuBose Gaillard, Class of 1884. Gaillard was responsible for the monumental engineering feat which led to the opening of the “path between the seas” in the Panama Canal through the “Gaillard Cut” in 1914.
A love of music was ingrained early in Frank, with his mother being a life-long musician and piano teacher, and his father an avid opera listener. Frank picked up a trombone at age 11 and never put it down, except to play piano or guitar! Frank won national awards for his band performances from age 12 and continued to arrange, direct and play music throughout his life. (We had many a jam session in our living room!)
Of particular note, Frank earned the cherished position as interim director of the West Point Glee Club in 1950—the first cadet to earn such an honor. He arranged songs in four-part harmony for an entire album, and convinced the West Point administration and Columbia Records to let the cadets travel down to New York City for a recording session. The album was a great success and is still listened to today. Frank once again directed his fellow officers in “Army Blue,” “the Alma Mater,” and “The Corps” during the 1990 trip to Seoul, Korea, at the 40-year ceremonial honoring of American veterans by the Korean government.
In the 1950 Howitzer, his classmates described him as follows: We had to find a new word to define this blithe spirit, this eternal optimist whose carefree attitude brought him through the maze without a scratch. So Gaillard has become a new word in our vocabulary describing the ultimate in ‘good Joes’. He’ll be remembered as that pylon shaped wonder boy behind that trombone in ork by those who never met our most unforgettable character. He was also known as “Shortie”, “High Pockets” and “Stretch,” as Frank had an arm reach that was a major asset to the West Point Lacrosse team.
Upon graduation, Frank spent one year with the Signal company of the 11 th Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, KY, as a 1st lieutenant senior parachutist. (Oh, those cherished jump stories!)
In December of 1951, he spent 11 months in Korea as a radio and VHF-wire officer with the 40th Infantry Division. He extended seven months with the 224th Infantry Regiment, defending the “Punch Bowl,” and earned the Bronze Star Medal, Commendation Ribbon, and Combat Infantryman Badge. He returned to Signal School in September 1953 and was promoted to captain. Frank participated in an electronic warfare planning group and went into the reserves as a captain. His primary job in the Army Reserve was instructing Command & General Staff College courses. He retired as a reserve full colonel after 20 years.
Frank met and later married his “little Irish doll,” Joanie Hourigan, in October 1957, in Dallas, TX, (during the only fall weekend that did not have an Army football game scheduled!) They have two daughters, Erin and Christy. Erin and her husband, Michael Kielty, have two daughters, Allison and Kelley. Christy and her husband, James Barrese, have three daughters, Anya, Elizabeth, and Kathryn. (All girls for Frank!) They all live in California. Frank and Joanie enjoyed traveling around the world, playing tennis and hosting many a jazz music gathering. They enjoyed 50 years of happy marriage, retiring in a beautiful, peaceful home on the shore of Lake of the Pines in Auburn, CA.
Frank's civilian career included industrial program management, manufacturing engineering and electromechanical design with high-tech companies from Dallas (Texas Instruments and Geotech) to Silicon Valley (California Microwave, FMC, and Sylvania). Many fond memories of “engineering student antics” at West Point were shared with friends and family! Frank enjoyed recruiting for West Point and was a model officer while representing the academy and screening potential cadets in the San Francisco Bay Area. (He loved having an excuse to attend high school football games!) His true passion, however, was in coaching tennis. For 20 years he inspired and enlightened students from ages three to 75. He proudly achieved the rank of USTA Pro Level four at age 75 and continued to teach tennis until a week before his passing at age 80.
Frank passed away peacefully at “the lake,” with his cherished wife and faithful dog by his side, on 15 Oct 2007. It is felt that there could be no greater honor for Frank than to have West Point as his final resting place. A dedicated officer and family man, Franks values of duty, honor and integrity permeated his life’s work
—His family and classmates, Roy Easley and James Tormey