Daniel John Vician of Friday Harbor passed away on April 17, 2023 in The Villages, Florida (his second/winter home) surrounded by his true love and love of gardening.
Born on November 20, 1949, in Cleveland Ohio, Dan was the son of the late Paul and Pauline Vician (nee Bobby). Raised in Cleveland, Dan graduated 12th in his class from West Technical High in 1968 and earned a Congressional appointment to the United States Air Force Academy. After graduating with honors (and hair/sideburns that were well out of AF regulations), he chose pilot training in Big Spring, Texas instead of law school. In 1974, he reported to the 18th MAS “Blue Diamonds” at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. In 1978 he left active duty to become a commercial airline pilot (Eastern MEC Secretary/Treasurer and Vice Chairman, Northwest, MEC Contract Administration Committee Chairman and Delta, Negotiating Committee). He continued in multiple leadership positions at McGuire as a reservist in the 732nd MAS “RAMs” and 702nd AS “Eagles” through 1998. From 1999 to 2002, he finished his USAF career that spanned more than 31 years at Southern Command in his then hometown of Miami.
He will be missed deeply by the love of his life, Carolyn Vician, wife of 31 years. He leaves behind his loving children, Eric Vician (Kristina), Marc Vician, (Shennandoah), Corinne Shepard (Mike) and their mother, Linda Vician (nee Gedeon) and Vladia Vician. His precious grandchildren, Kali, Aiden, Kendal, Mira, Bryson (OT), Colton (Pistol). Many nieces and nephews including a very special nephew, Dave Vician. He was preceded in death by his brothers Dale, Paul and David. He is survived by his sister, Gayle.
Dan had a one of kind personality and a dynamic sense of humor that only certain people were drawn to, but that didn’t stop him from being friendly to any soul he encountered. He was intelligent beyond his years, he was strong, and witty. Dan was an avid gardener, always having a specific plan in his head for just the right mix of soil, sand and shrubs. He will be remembered for adding so much value to each home he lived in with his plots of heaven on earth in his many garden beds.
In lieu of what most people do after a loved one passes, please pass on his Vician ways. Plant something in your yard. Host a cookout. Tell stories. Smile and laugh. If you are a parent, reach out to your children as soon as you read this and tell them something special and loving.
Dan has entered somewhere into the wild blue yonder, however will never leave our hearts.
To honor his birth year, here are 49 memories of Dan Vician. Please feel free to reach out to friends and family members for more details and to continue conversations around these topics for eternity:
1.AB: His godmother, Aunt Bessie Mihal, molded him. He spent the rest of her life supporting her – even presented her with an American Flag and medals he won “because of and for her.”
2. FAMILY: There’s too many relatives to list by name in this obituary. But I think we can all agree, AB deserves to be on a pedestal and that he made us all smile and laugh. Insert your personal memories here for infinite happiness.
3. STRATEGIC AIRLIFT SUPPORT: He commanded military operations in Grenada, Panama and Haiti and was often called upon to fly high-profile presidential, VP, Secretary of State, Space Command and nuclear device transport missions. He was part of a small cadre of pilots certified to take off and land a C-141 in as little as 5,000 feet of runway space (about half the standard).
4. PAPRIKA FOREVER: Put it on EVERYTHING. Especially potatoes, corn on the cob (that you put on the grill), chicken, zivanska and huckies.
5. FRIDAY 5’ZZZZS: A week ending tradition of inviting friends over to their home on Friday Harbor. He would cook (insert paprika here) and host “delightful” sunset banter.
6. WEST TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL: While working as a newspaper boy and working on a Congressional appointment to the United States Air Force Academy, he also worked on requisitioning a metal hall pass with his homeroom number 256 on it. It’s still hanging in the Florida home where he passed.
7. NORTHWEST AIRLINES / DELTA AIRLINES MERGER: Along with a friend (GWW), he negotiated “The 2007 Summer of Discontent” agreement by recording the first post-bankruptcy work rule recovery in airline industry history. He basically ensured NWA pilots earned raises by using unique, but factual and obscure tactics as a member of the negotiating committee.
8. THE HOMEMADE CHECK: He had a mission to take C-5 parts in a box from Frankfurt to Turkey. He didn’t know Turkish airspace was closed and he got radio silence in Greek airspace. He was supposed to make a visual landing, but didn’t see anything at night. Just as he was going to abort, the runway quickly illuminated for a landing then went dark again. That’s when he found out about the conflict and was grounded for eight days. To survive, he crafted a homemade check on a piece of paper (because he knew his account numbers) and cashed it to take care of himself and his crew.
9. HANDS UP: It’s been a Vician tradition since the 1970s to put your hands up while riding old school wooden roller coasters. Pay no attention to the signs that frown upon that and instead pay more attention to the cameras and put your hands in the air like you don’t care. And smile delightfully!
10. NOT MACARONI: While one could argue that he was a partial Yankee, he most certainly did not root for the Yankees (Go Indians, Not that new name!) On the other hand, he was definitely a DANdy. But when he put a feather in his cap it was because he thought he exuded coolness and often wore it golfing or working in the yard.
12. ICE CUBES IN MILK: No words necessary for this one.
13. DAN MARINO’S FINAL HOME GAME: On Dec. 27, 1999, before ticket reselling was mainstreamed, he tried to purchase scalped tickets for the highly anticipated Monday Night game against the Jets. He was unsuccessful in joining the 74,230 people inside Pro Player Stadium because he looked like a textbook undercover cop. Nobody would sell to him! So, he and his son instead crashed a tailgate party and watched from the parking lot.
14. DID YOU HEAR WHAT HAPPENED THIS MORNING? … The Sun Came Up (his favorite joke)
15. UNCLE LOUIE: The most infamous relative in all our extended family often sent holiday cards and letters from random locations on Earth. The legend just might live on.
16. BOGO MOVIES: Buy tickets to one and instead of leaving when it’s over, slide into another.
17. OPHELIA: While not very Shakespearian, his favorite mannequin did aid and help the security of his 1972 Dodge van. Before it was decommissioned, he used that vehicle as his PHL airport transport to visit his 3 biological children on return trips to NJ and McGuire AFB. She rode in the back seat and served as “security” while sitting in the employee parking lot. She also served as “chaperone” for many of Eric’s high school dates.
18. 1972 DODGE VAN: Before it was home to a not so Greek dummy, he carpeted the back and installed cabinets that housed many games for his kids to enjoy on long rides to visit family in Pittsfield, PA and Cleveland. Fun? Yes! Safe not being in seatbelts? No.
19. DIRECTIONAL INDIFFERENCE: If you’ve ever traveled with him in a vehicle, on skis, on foot and sometimes in a plane, he often chose the “wrong” way to go on purpose. Partially for an offspring’s life lesson to learn your way back without the benefit of Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumb trail; partially just for giggles. He may have also “lost” two sons in the Rocky Mountains, one daughter in a rental car and two grandsons in Lowes.
20. MORE TRAVELING: If you’ve ever ridden shotgun in any vehicle ever. There’s a good chance you got your left thigh randomly/shockingly/joltingly grabbed/slapped by his right hand. Sometimes at red lights. Sometimes while going 70 MPH.
21. STRATFORD LANE: Raised 3 kids. Requisitioned then transplanted trees from government property to personal property. Pool outside. Pool in basement. Played catch over the fence and over the roof. And who recalls when he was a work from home, independent new car and truck leasing broker for “Select-A-Car” concurrent to all his piloting?
22. TASTES GREAT, LESS FILLING: Miller Lite may have been consumed by one of his kids on accident (thought it was Pepsi) and by another on purpose (right before a Go Kart birthday outing.)
23. BLOBALL: Oktoberfest party in Miami, 10/12/1996. Think ping pong meets air hockey. No hands. All hot air from your knees. Don’t pass out! He considered filing a patent for it, but couldn’t figure out how to box it up.
24. MAROON BALLS: Trips to the Miami Zoo and Parrot Jungle (now called Jungle Island) included free concerts from The Turtles, the realization that “we need more otters” and exotic tropical fruit called maroon balls.
25. MCGUIRE AFB: He spent a quarter century in NJ accumulating a plethora of awards listed below. But he was most proud of “Flying with the RAMs” – a team building motto that stood for Raggedy Ass Militia and earned him Aircraft Commander/Aircrew of the Year Award in 1980 (and the Rump Award in 1990. See Guam #36.)
26. NO SALT IN THE BAHAMAS: You may be able to take a short cruise from South Florida to the Bahamas on a no-name cruise line. If you do, be sure to stand sideways into the wind. You also may be able to “bet” on wooden horse races on said boat. But once you get to the island, you may play very bad tennis and you may NOT have any salt on your food.
27. MARKETS: Whether West Side for fruits and veggies or Pennsauken for keys, he always found random treasures.
28. MARCH 28, 1973: On the verge of what he called “the unknown of becoming a dad; the wonder” he played Chinese checkers in the waiting room.
29. SULTAN OF OMAN: He was inducted as an honorary member of the Sultan of Oman’s Arabian Army after helping the British military execute an important mission.
30. GABES BURGERS: Legendary local eatery in Miami. Also legendary for messing up our orders.
31. HIS HAT WAS IN THE RING: For anyone on the “Eastern” coast, you might appreciate a “Lorenzo dart board.”
32. $2 BILLS: Another Vician tradition that he carried on for special occasion cards. Some of these are worth more than $1,000. So do your research before you give one to somebody.
33. POTPOURRI PRESENTS: Raise your hand if you’ve ever received anything random for a gift? Like a pantry item? Yep.
34. FOUR CAREER NEAR MISS MISHAPS: The first time Dan survived a midair mishap was during flight training at Webb AFB in Big Spring, Texas. A Nigerian foreign exchange officer was “lost” and came within feet of his aircraft. The others were never mentioned.
35. VICIAN-ESE: It’s a “special talk” that only someone with Vician blood would understand. Great for wigging out friends and strangers.
36. GUAM: His favorite base (and that includes places like Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, UAE, UK, Oman, Spain, Saudi Arabia and all over the U.S.) also got him mentioned in a 1996 Wall Street Journal story for having one of the longest commutes to work (Miami to Guam). Thankfully, they didn’t write about his Rump Award. Something about tan lines and turtles.
37. HURRICANE ANDREW: 1992. 65 fatalities. $27.3 Billion in damages. His Miami enclave survived. Massive emotions did not. Eventually helped spur a move “back home” to Ohio, before retiring to Washington state and ultimately coming full circle back to Florida with a winter home in The Villages.
38. GENERAL STORE TAB: As a Cleveland kid, without any parental supervision, he went to the corner hardware store to charge things to a nonexistent family account. Paint. Concrete. Window glass. (And once he splurged on a baseball glove for himself). The items were subsequently used for home improvement projects like rebuilding steps to the door or tearing down a backyard shed to make room for a summer vegetable garden.
39. WOOD PANELING: AB’s basement. 21 Stratford’s basement. Way before wainscoting was cool. The AB version hosted family dinners and Sunday Soup. The NJ version included foosball and video games like Pong and Space Invaders.
40. LITTLE LEAGUE COACH/LIFE COACH: He did both very well. As a baseball manager he put his child on the bench “only to allow others playing time so they too could enjoy the game – winning IS NOT everything.” As a parent he wished that “Happiness Be Yours.”
41. C-141 GRAND CANYON While he called the DC-9-10 his most fun aircraft to fly out of more than 15 types he piloted and he called the best layovers anywhere the 747-200/400 pax cargo, it was the C-141 that allowed him to see the world (and perhaps the inside of the Grand Canyon). He recounted this story on video in 2023.
42. DELIGHTFUL: His favorite adjective of his AARP existence.
43. ENJOY EVERY DAY: His corresponding email signature of his AARP existence.
44. UNORTHODOX SPORTS PARTICIPATION: Bowling balls were thrown with an upward wrist flip. Golf swings were done in a complete, full circle, 360-degree arc. No follow through. It’s all about returning the club back to the starting point. (You know you want to try both.)
45. RULE 13: If there was a competition to be had and there was a sign posted in the vicinity, then he would point out Rule 13. It stated that whatever he just did was legal.
46. QUIZZES AFTER THE MOVIES: Stay for the credits because if you know who the “Best Boy” was, you get to pick the next movie. Or you may just pontificate how transcendental Mahatma Gandhi was for the human race. Two movies meant two quizzes.
47. PETS: Spanky the dog. Leo Tommy Turtle. Dusty. Spanky the bird. Buck. Rudy. Kelly. Darla Sue. Nellie. Stella. Sam the cat. And the rubber snake that lived on the doorstep of four homes.
48. ANNUALS AND PERENNIALS: May they bloom for eternity since he loved them so.
49. MILITARY HONORS: (He never wanted any public praise for the 37 years, 5 months and 13 days of service that his discharge paperwork says he is credited for, but his efforts need to be remembered in cyber land forever.) Served in every post-Vietnam military conflict, including Desert Shield/Desert Storm (8/24/1990 to 7/4/1991), through his retirement in 2002.
- Legion of Merit Award (6/28/2002) Earned the Air Force’s fifth highest award the day he retired. Given by order of the president, for “exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service to the United States.”
- Third Oak Leaf Cluster (7/19/1996 to 2/23/1999) As Special Assistant to the Wing Commander, 514th Air Mobility Wing, Deputy Commander, 514th Operations Group and Commander 702nd Airlift Squadron he made “significant contributions to the effectiveness and success of C-141 operations, meeting and exceeding Phoenix Scorpion 1 and II, Bosnia, Southern Watch, Presidential support, African, Russian and a myriad of other critical taskings.”
- National Defense Service Medal (Gulf War) No longer awarded, this medal was designated by the Secretary of Defense during times of qualifying national emergencies.
- Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (10/1/1997 to 9/30/1998) 514th Medical Squadron, 702nd Airlift Squadron and 732nd Airlift Squadron
- Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (10/1/1995 to 9/30/1997) 514th MAW
- Kuwait Liberation Medal – Kuwait (6/11/1996) awarded by the Government of Kuwait. Authorized by the DOD in 1995.
- Air University (6/3/1995) Completed the Air War College Associate Correspondence Program.
- Air Force Achievement Medal (2/3/1993) First C-141 air evacuation flight of critically injured Croatian and Bosnian nationals to the US. Overcame rerouting, configuration changes, inflight failure of the AC and pressurization systems.
- Second Oak Leaf Cluster (7/18/1994 to 7/18/1996) Superior leadership and enthusiasm “directly inspired the 225 men and women of his unit” as chief pilot 732nd Airlift Squadron, 514th Air Mobility Wing.
- First Oak Leaf Cluster (2/3/1993) The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Affairs was onboard to witness the high priority, high visibility evacuation.
- Air Force Achievement Medal (12/20/1990 to 2/21/1991) As Aircraft Commander assigned to the 732nd Military Airlift Squadron “his understanding of operations in emergency situations aided immeasurably to mission success.”
- Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (8/1/1990 to 7/31/1992) 514th MAW
- Southwest Asia Service Medal 3 Dev (4/19/1991) Operation Desert Calm. Also called Desert Farewell and Peace Walker.
- Air Medal (1/18/1991 to 3/28/1991): 15 successful airlift missions in SW Asia under “extremely hazardous conditions.”
- Southwest Asia Service Medal 2 Dev (8/14/1990 to 3/28/1991) Operation Desert Shield/Storm. Flew the third most strategic air missions out of 100 pilots. (Logged 46 missions into the AOR and more than 400 combat support flying hours – as a reservist!)
- Kuwait Liberation Medal (1/18/1991 to 2/27/1991) Aircrew member in the designated combat zone.
- Aerial Achievement Medal (8/14/1990 to 1/16/1991) Successfully completed multiple airlift missions in Southwest Asia under extremely hazardous conditions.
- Meritorious Service Medal (10/30/1978 to 10/16/1990) Held 7 leadership positions including Assistant Flight Commander, 732nd Military Airlift Squadron. Named Outstanding Aircraft Commander of the Year.
- Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (10/24/1983 to 11/29/1983) Operation Urgent Fury. The US invasion of Grenada.
- Air Force Commendation Medal (1/10/1974 to 10/29/1978) 18th Military Airlift Squadron, 438th Military Airlift Wing, McGuire AFB flight instructor and examiner assured competent pilots were prepared for global missions.
- Humanitarian Service Medal (2/8/1977) Operation “Snow Go.” One of 8 C-141 planes used to rescue 430 passengers, including Army engineering personnel, disaster relief workers, and government officials after 150 inches of snow fell on the Western NY/PA border.
- Combat Readiness Medals (Multiple: Basic earned 1/10/1974 to 1/10/19977 followed by 9 Oak Leaf Clusters through 1997) Service medal for the preparedness of direct weapon-system employment supporting the 18 MAS, 732nd MAS and 702nd A service member must have completed 24 cumulative months of sustained duty performance for the medal to be received.
Testimonials about Danial John Vician from his military superiors through the years:
“Lieutenant Colonel Vician stands out from his peers as the best – extremely capable, professional and effective. His counsel on operational matters us outstanding. Clearly, he is my most important assistant, staff officer, or any other title one can invoke.” – Lloyd C. Welken, Lt. Col., 1/22/1995, McGuire AFB
“Captain Vician is a superior officer. His recent selection to Major was well deserved. I highly recommend continued increases in rank and responsibility.” – Colonel Charles J. Gagliano, 8/29/1984, McGuire AFB
“Captain Vician is one of the finest young officers I have ever observed. He should receive as much challenge and responsibility in the future as possible and will be an invaluable asset as a member of the Air Force Reserve team.” – Major Mark S. Erickson, 7/28/1978, McGuire AFB