ADVERTISEMENT

LOCKPORT – Ronald A. Franco, an American Airlines pilot and retired combat veteran of the Air Force Reserve, was appointed 2nd Ward alderman Tuesday.

Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey said she chose Franco from among eight applicants for the seat she gave up Feb. 21, when she became mayor upon the resignation of Michael W. Tucker.

Franco is a Republican and a first-time officeholder. The appointment is good through the end of the year. Franco would have to win a one-year unexpired term in November if he wants to stay on the Common Council past Dec. 31.

“There is a possibility of that,” Franco, 50, said when asked if he would be running.

“I feel like he is passionate about making Lockport a better place. He understands the challenges we face,” McCaffrey said.

“I spent my entire life in Lockport. It would be easier for me to live near one of the (airline) hubs. We are tremendous fans and supporters of the city,” Franco said.

Franco has been flying for American since 1999. McCaffrey said he told her that he would arrange his work schedule so he’s in Lockport every Wednesday, when the Council normally meets.

“With my seniority, I can easily do that,” Franco said by phone from Florida.

Franco retired as an Air Force Reserve major in 2009. He flew 15 years for the 328th Airlift Squadron and was activated for both Gulf Wars. In his final five years of service, he was an Air Force Academy liaison officer.

With the 328th, Franco was chief of training, a night-vision goggle flight test pilot, Niagara Air Show aircraft display coordinator and an Air Medal and Aerial Achievement Medal recipient.

His foreign missions included Operation Volant Oak, in which he flew Special Forces support in Central America in 1989, and United Nations support in Somalia, Bosnia, Turkey and Egypt. In the second Gulf War in 2003, Franco evaded a shoulder-launched missile over Baghdad and flew in the team that rescued the Jessica Lynch Special Forces unit in Iraq.

Franco is a 1982 graduate of Lockport High School and received a congressional appointment to the Air Force Academy. He studied there and at Syracuse University, where he earned his degree in astronautical engineering.

He was the speaker and guest of honor for Lockport’s Veterans Day parade in 1991, gave the commencement address at the 2004 Lockport High School graduation and was the keynote speaker for the Lockport High School Quality Student Awards program in 2006.

Franco will be sworn in as part of McCaffrey’s formal inaugural ceremony at 6 p.m. today in the Palace Theatre, 2 East Ave.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com