Sunday, June 23, 2024

Avenue of Heroes: RADM Francis Holian

Written by: Retired RADM Francis Holian

RADM Francis Holian is a 1968 graduate of the Naval Academy. His initial assignment was to a destroyer. However, like many junior officers at that time, he was reassigned to Vietnam as a Riverine Warfare advisor. Recognized for his service during this tour, he was selected to be the aide to RADM Robert S. Salzer, commander of all Naval Forces in Vietnam. Upon return to the states, follow-on at-sea tours included chief engineer of a destroyer, Mod Squad executive officer of a guided-missile destroyer, and commanding officer of the minesweeper USS Fortify (MSO 446). During his minesweeping tour, Holian successfully located two aircraft lost in separate accidents off the east coast. Subsequent at-sea assignments included commanding officer of USS Fletcher, a Spruance-class destroyer, and USS Fox, a guided-missile cruiser. During these command tours, Adm. Holian and his family lived in Coronado, California, and both his daughters graduated from Coronado High School.

Ashore, RADM Holian served as head of Navy congressional liaison to the Defense Appropriations Committees, where he worked closely with senior naval and congressional leaders for nearly four years. Upon selection to Flag Officers, he initially served on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, as head of finance, budget and personnel. During this tour, Holian was the staff officer responsible for overseeing the evacuation
of all military personnel and dependents from the Philippines following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. His follow-on assignment was commander, Navy Region Southwest, colloquially, the Navy Mayor of San Diego. Recognized for building strong working relationships with the San Diego and Coronado communities, both City Councils established ‚ÄúRADM Fran Holian Days.‚ÄĚ Following his assignment as commander of training for the Pacific Fleet, he retired in 1996. He then served for 10 years as Vice President for Northrop Grumman‚Äôs Undersea Systems division.

In retirement, RADM Holian has served as chairman of the Naval Training Center Foundation responsible for the conversion of the property into Liberty Station; served as chairman of the United Though Reading organization directly supporting military families worldwide; and currently serves on the San Diego Maritime Museum board. Ever a sailor’s sailor, RADM Holian continues to hoist the burgee of the Coronado Yacht Club.

The Hometown Banner Program is a military service recognition program sponsored by the City of Coronado. Introduced in 2014, the program has honored 218 hometown heroes. On Nov. 5, 2022, another 12 will be honored. The City funds all the costs for the program. City staff and volunteers from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2422, the Coronado Historical Association and the Third and Fourth Streets Neighborhood Association oversee its operation. In 2011 the inspiration for the program came spontaneously with the movement of two Navy SEALs to their final resting place. News spread quickly in Coronado. The local Rotary Club passed out American flags. People lined Fourth Street to honor the fallen service members. As the procession approached the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, a lone Navy SEAL stood at attention, saluting as he waited for the passage of his comrades. At that moment, it was clear that Third and Fourth streets were already an Avenue of Heroes. From that spontaneous beginning, the program was launched in May 2015 with 18 banners. Ceremonies are held twice yearly and men and women with ties to the community have been recognized from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. The Hometown Banner program is a reminder that Coronado has a rich history and legacy of service to country.

Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

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