Frank S. Mendez


Frank S. Mendez is retired and lives in Miami, Florida.  He worked with Firestone Rubber Company in Akron, was director of the U. S. Army Tropic Test Center in the Panama Canal Zone, and served as a colonel in the U. S. Army Reserve.

These are his words describing his second book: 

“The book starts with my father’s beginnings in a Mexican mountain village of the early 20th Century.  As a young man he leaves his home under harrowing circumstances, migrates to Texas, takes up residence near Houston, marries, and raises a family while working at sugar beet farms and railroad jobs. Five years later he takes his family to Lorain, Ohio, an industrial town, where I was raised from 1925 to 1943.  Growing up Chicano in the barrio, influenced equally by Mexican mores and American Midwest values, I had problems assimilating into the “American Way of Life”.  The point of view of my book addresses assimilation and alienation experiences of a second generation immigrant of Mexican descent.  The theme is that of a young man trying to resolve conflicting cultural impressions of two countries. 

The Great Depression, a family separation crisis, and World War II impacted my family in a major way; several temporary jobs, charity, and welfare provided necessities – we survived.  I dropped out of high school to enlist in the U. S Marine Corps at age seventeen in 1943 and served twenty-two months in the Asiatic-Pacific theatre; Bachelors degree (1949), Masters (1950), and Professional Engineer License (1956) followed.  I was a research and test engineer with Firestone in Akron, Ohio and later with the U. S. Army Tropic Test Center in the Panama Canal Zone where I retired as the Technical Director.  I also retired as Colonel, U.S. Army Reserve with diplomas from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College. I participated in treaty discussions between the United States and Panama that resulted in a new Panama Canal treaty in 1977.  

In 1986 I completed thirty years of service with the U.S. Army as a civilian engineer.  The Governor of the Canal Zone awarded me the Panama Canal Honorary Public Service Award with Medallion for serving as a member and Chairman of the Canal Zone Board of Registration for Architects and Professional Engineers.  He also appointed me as a trustee and Executive Vice President of the non-profit corporation, The Canal Zone United Way Incorporated, with the duty to chair the monthly meeting for him, approving plans for annual drives, presentation of a $6 million budget, allocation of resources, and review and recording of final results. 

On retirement from the Federal Service, I was presented with the Oak Leaf Cluster to the U.S. Army Meritorious Civilian Service Medal.  My Army Reserve assignments included six tours of active duty at the Pentagon, and culminated in my selection for the position of Commander of the Balboa Detachment of the National Wartime Information Security Organization.  HQ, Department of the Army, Washington, D.C. awarded me the Legion of Merit Medal on my retirement from the U.S. Army Reserve."


  • From Michoacan, Mexico to Lorain, Ohio : an account of the lives of Maria Tovar, her children, their spouses, and her grandchildren. (1994)

  • You can't be Mexican, you talk just like me. (2004)