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Frank C. Stecklein,

Published on -1/16/2013, 10:04 AM

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M/sgt Frank C. Stecklein, Air Force retired, entered into rest on January 8, 2013, in San Antonio, Texas, 3 months prior to his 100th birthday. He was the eldest of eight children born to the late Carl and Anna (Younger) Stecklein. Frank was born in March of 1913 in Ellis County Kansas.

Frank graduated from St. Joseph Military Academy of Hays Kansas, in 1932. Prior to his death, Frank was the oldest living Alum. Soon after graduation, he joined the U.S. Army Horse Cavalry at Fort Riley, KS. After Fort Riley, Frank re-enlisted and was stationed in Hawaii, where he played the trumpet in the Coast Artillery Band. He re-enlisted in the Army Air corps, and in February of 1941, Frank was transferred to Nickols Field, Philippine Islands. He was placed on Detached Services in General MacArthur's Headquarters. May 6, 1942, all troops in the Philippine Islands were surrendered to Japan, and he and fellow prisoners of war worked on the island of Luzon. Frank cut wood in the jungle, and carried manure to local farms. On July 2, 1944, Frank and 1,500 fellow prisoners were transferred, confined in a coal carrying ship. For two months, the ship dodged U.S. submarines and the prisoners were given little to eat until their arrival at Moji, Japan. From Moji, the prisoners were taken by train to Omuta, Japan, where Frank worked for one year in the coal mines until the surrender of Japan.

After nine months of hospitalization and rehabilitation, Frank re-enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. In 1947, Frank was recalled to Tokyo, Japan, to be a witness in the War Crimes Trials. Frank testified to the brutal beatings he and others received while working in the coal mines. From Frank's family and community upbringing, Frank spoke German quite well and in 1949, attended Intelligence school in D.C. where he then was transferred to Frankfurt, Germany, to interrogate German Prisoners of War. While in Germany, Frank traveled all countries outside the Iron Curtain, took accordion lessons and enjoyed visiting with friends. In 1959, Frank returned to Washington, D.C., to learn Spanish before being transferred to Ascuncan, Paraguay, on Air Force Mission Duty. He was able to visit every country in South America during this time. In September 1962, while stationed at Randolph Air Force Base, Frank retired from the military and then served until 1972 in the Civil Service.

Frank was a recipient of the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and all medals connected to service in WWII in the Pacific as a POW. He is a life member of the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, Prisoners' of War, VFW, and DAV. Frank was an Honorary member of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus and also a member of the American Legion and the Moose Lodge.

Frank loved to travel, visiting family and friends across the U.S., and also returned to Germany several times. He loved to dance and play music on the accordion and organ. Frank sang in church choir every year since he was 13 years old. He was a member of St. Helena's Choir and sang with Judy for Christmas Eve Mass this year. His greatest pastime was watching his favorite Texas football, baseball and basketball teams on TV. He is survived by his wife, Judy Stecklein; daughter, Sharon Ann Graber (Larry); son, Carl Stecklein; sister, Rose Linenberger (Raymond); brother, Richard Stecklein (Maryanne); granddaughter, Aiyin Graeber; step-daughters Beth Alm, Brenda Cheesman (Larry); Beverly Johnson (Andrew); Bridgotte Griffin (Ed); and step-son Brad Alm (Rhonda).

He is preceded in death by siblings, Henry Stecklein; Mary Resley (Mars); Evelyn Scala (Louie), Agnes Ann Maupin (Bob), and Josephine Gross (Alphonse).

Funeral services will be at 11a.m. Saturday, January 19, 2013, at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Munjor. Burial with full military honors will be in St. Francis Cemetery.

Visitation will be Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 to 9:30 a.m. at Brock's North Hill Chapel, 2509 Vine, Hays, KS 67601. A Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus rosary will be Friday at 6:30 p.m., followed by a parish vigil service at 7 p.m., all at the funeral home.

Memorials are suggested to Thomas More Prep-Marian High School.

Condolences may be left by guestbook at www.keithleyfuneralchapels.com or emailed to keithley@ruraltel.net.

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