Salutes & Awards

May 4, 2012

Fitness center renamed to honor fallen Airman

by Capt. Amy West
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Pg-3-Renaming-ceremony-niece
Aubrey Whitworth, 7, the niece of Lt. Col. Frank Bryant Jr., sings the national anthem during the ceremony renaming the fitness center after him Monday at Luke Air Force Base. Bryant died in the line of duty April 27, 2011, while serving as an air liaison for the Afghan air force. Bryant was adamant about fitness, engaging in sports ranging from snowboarding to wrestling.

Team Luke officially renamed its fitness center to the Bryant Fitness Center during a re-dedication ceremony Monday to honor of an Airman killed while serving in a combat zone last year.

Lt. Col. Frank Bryant Jr., the fitness center’s namesake, was among the nine Americans killed during the April 27, 2011, shooting incident at the Afghan Command and Control Center in the Afghanistan air force headquarters, North Kabul International Airport. He passed away from wounds sustained during the incident.

“It is especially fitting that you have chosen the gymnasium to dedicate to Frank’s memory,” said Bryant’s father, Frank Bryant Sr. “Frank purely loved to work out. I know that he spent countless hours in this gym. I am awed. I am humbled. I am thankful.”

During the ceremony, his widow, Janice Bryant, spoke of her gratitude and pride to be at Luke for the occasion. For her, Luke holds a special place in her heart as it is where she and her husband began their married life together. It is also where she plans to bring back their 2-year-old son, Sean Luke, to see the indelible impact his father made on his peers.

“This is where he’ll see his father’s name; his legacy. I think he will always be taken in here and see that his father was part of something so great.”

Mrs. Bryant remembered her husband as a man full of life, dedication, humility and genuine kindness.

“I will not cry today because Frank is gone,” she said. “I will smile because he lived.”

Known to many as Bruiser, the 16-year veteran from Knoxville, Tenn., was an instructor pilot and the assistant director of operations for the 56th Training Squadron. He was a decorated pilot with more than 2,000 flying hours, and was serving as an air advisor during his deployment to Afghanistan.

Father, Frank Sr.; mother, Patricia; and wife, Janice; of Lt. Col. Frank Bryant Jr., unveil the memorial plaque placed at the entrance of the fitness center Monday at Luke Air Force Base. The plaque details the life and career of Bryant, explaining how he was killed in action in Afghanistan.

“As an all-American collegiate wrestler, this is an awesome tribute to the man Bruiser was,” said Brig. Gen. JD Harris, 56th Fighter Wing commander. “Each basket that is made, every weight that is lifted, and every mile that is run will be done in his honor.”

Held on the heels of the tragic event’s anniversary, the dedication is a lasting tribute to Bryant. A bronze plaque, donated by the Glendale Civic Pride Ambassadors, adorns an exterior wall near the gym’s entrance. In part, it reads, “Lt. Col. Bryant was an accomplished wrestler and dedicated athlete, which contributed to his officer qualities of leadership and character. Lt. Col. Bryant epitomized the courage and honor that is the heritage of Frank Luke Jr., at Luke Air Force Base. This building shall be a daily reminder of all personnel of the commitment, service and ultimate sacrifice by Lt. Col. Bryant.”

Monday’s ceremony was attended by Bryant’s family and friends, leaders from the surrounding community and Luke Airmen.

“We can’t bring any of those nine faithful servants back, so remember them all,” said Harris. “The entire team made a difference in Afghanistan, saving lives and attempting to end corruption and evil. When you come into the Bryant Fitness Center, do one more push up and one more sit up just for him; that’s what Lt. Col. Bryant, the Bruiser, would have wanted.”




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