Army Aviation

Meet Our New Army Aviation Center of Excellence First Lady

Family Forum / By Judy Konitzer: MG David J. Francis took command of USAACE and Fort Rucker on June 17, and shortly after while still unpacking boxes and settling into her new role, his wife Jodie graciously agreed to this interview and allow our readers to get to know her. – Judy

MG David J. Francis and his wife Jodie are surrounded by all but three of their family members after MG Francis’s promotion ceremony and his assumption of command of U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker on June 17, 2019. It was a very special day for the Francis family as they enjoyed not only their family time but also many festivities connected with the events. / U.S. ARMY PHOTO BY USAACE PAO

Judy: When and where did you and your husband meet?

Jodie: We met about 32 years ago at Gannon University. Ironically, we were in a required speech class together that I had put off until my last semester. Public speaking is still not my strongest gift, but I got much more out of that class than any other I’ve ever taken.

Judy: How often and where have you moved as a family to different duty stations?

Jodie: We have moved 20 times in 30 years to 10 different locations in-cluding Ft. Rucker; Erie, PA; Ft. Bragg, NC; National Training Center, Ft. Irwin, CA; Ft. Leavenworth, KS; Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; Carlisle Barracks, PA; Ft. Drum, NY; Camp Humphreys, Korea and Fort Belvoir, VA.

Judy: Can you tell us about your children?

Jodie: We have 7 children, 1 boy and 6 girls. Four are graduated from college. One is in the Army. Three are married. We have 2 beautiful grands and another enroute. Two will be in college, and our youngest will be an “only child” this coming school year. We still have 7 years before we’re empty nesters!

Judy: I understand you homeschooled your children, so how did you manage that?

Jodie: We have homeschooled all our children through high school. This past year, our daughter wished to finish her senior year at the local public high school. Moving and homeschooling worked very well for us and afforded the kids many, many fantastic opportunities over the years.
Judy: What were some of the difficulties for you and your children during the moves and deployments?

Jodie: Of course, we always missed Dave when he was gone, but we made a big effort to keep communications open as best we could during deployments. Meeting and saying good-bye to friends has probably always been the hardest part of military life, but the upside of that is that we have met so many wonderful people over the years, and we literally have friends all over the world. It’s always fun to run into someone you haven’t seen in years in the most unexpected place.

Judy: Have you held employment in a chosen career throughout the years? If not, have you volunteered in any organizations that you have found to be rewarding?

Jodie: I haven’t had a “paid job,” but I’ve kept busy between the kids and different Army roles. Homeschooling for the last 23 years has had so many awesome benefits and has also had its challenges, but if I had to do it again, I would not change that decision. Being in an Army family, there is never a lack for volunteer opportunities, and the kids and I have always tried to jump in where we were able. I think for the kids, seeing how Army families take care of each other has had a lasting impact, and I love to see them continue to do such things on their own!

Judy: This will be your 6th assignment at Fort Rucker and in the Wiregrass. Can you share any goals you and your husband have set for your leadership roles here?

Jodie: We started our married life here in flight school and then were soon back again for the Career Course. We had a really great experience in both of those assignments, and I think that what we received here at Fort Rucker during that time really was such a good base for Dave’s military career. We want the young aviators and their families to leave Ft. Rucker well equipped and prepared to go off to serve in their units and their families.

Judy: With flight school and Pre-Command Courses held here will you be involved in any spousal educational programs?

Jodie: I am very excited to be part of the Pre-Command course spouse’s panel and most especially excited about conducting the Command Team Seminar with our captain’s spouses who will be going into company command, and to re-energize the family readiness group (FRG) for our lieutenant and warrant officer spouses in flight school to give them a taste of the incredible opportunities available through our FRGs.

Judy: Can you share any nuggets of wisdom you have gleaned from your 30 years as an Army spouse?

Jodie: One of the biggest things I’ve learned over the years is that in this Army life, you receive far more than you give. We learned that you will meet, live, work, and experience life with some of the most incredible people you will ever encounter, and they will be friends for life. Actually, they will become close as family. Lastly, it is truly the people you meet and share experiences with that make or break the success of an assignment, not the location.