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1st Physics Department permanent professor dies

  • Published
  • By Capt. Justin Spring
  • Academy Department of Physics
The U.S. Air Force Academy recently experienced a profound loss with the passing of retired Col. Anthony J. Mione, the first permanent professor to lead the department of physics. 

Colonel Mione died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family, May 15, 2009, at the age of 82. 

Born March 8, 1927 in Brooklyn, New York, Colonel Mione wanted to fly from an early age. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1949 with a commission in the U.S. Air Force, and earned his pilot's wings in August 1950. 

At the time, the Air Force was investigating nuclear-powered aircraft and sponsored Colonel Mione to pursue graduate work at North Carolina State University, where he earned a master's of science in nuclear engineering in 1953. After several important assignments with Air Research and Development Command, Colonel Mione attended Air Command and Staff College, where he was selected as a distinguished graduate in 1961. He then returned to North Carolina State University, where he earned his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering in 1964. 

Colonel Mione was first assigned as an instructor to the Air Force Academy Department of Physics in 1963. In 1966, he was selected as head and first permanent professor of the physics department. During his 11 years at the Academy, Colonel Mione led a dramatic expansion of the physics curriculum; in 1963 there was no physics major and only a handful of elective physics courses were taught. Under Colonel Mione's leadership, the physics major was first offered to the class of 1966 and the number of elective courses grew to 18. Since then, more than 800 Academy graduates have earned physics degrees. 

Colonel Mione also established two separate research laboratories at the Academy. These facilities allowed the department to offer intensive laboratory coursework for cadets, engaging them in experimental investigations vital to future Air Force systems. These labs were early showcases for cadet research - many scientific papers were published with faculty and cadet co-authors. Through Colonel Mione's personal generosity, an endowment was established in 2001 for an annual award to the Outstanding Cadet in Physics Research, further solidifying his legacy as a great advocate for the critical role of research in educating and developing Air Force officers. 

After retiring from the Air Force in 1974, Colonel Mione worked for the General Electric Company. From 1974 to 1978, he was with GE's Power Systems Sector in Washington D.C., where he studied advanced generation technologies using coal to replace imported oil in electric utility industries. In 1978, he moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., where he managed GE's Neutron Devices Department, until his second retirement in 1985.
Colonel Mione is survived by his wife, Peggy; three daughters, Jennifer Grace Mione-Bonner, Jean Mione-Bottone, and Ann Mione-Purser; one son, John Kelly Mione; seven adoring grandchildren; and many close friends. 

"Colonel Mione was a remarkable leader," said Brig. Gen. James Head, former permanent professor, head of the physics department, and vice dean of the faculty. "He established significant improvements to programs and facilities of the Department of Physics. His vision helped propel the Academy into the first-rate institution it has become."