Through 50 years of military service, the object of the work and the ultimate goal of a career remained the same for Francis D. “Frank” Vavala.

“It was caring for the needs of my service members and their families,” Vavala said.

From enlisting as a private in 1967 to retiring as a major general and commander of the Delaware National Guard in 2017, Vavala fulfilled those goals he set for himself at the beginning of his service – and the First State is better off, and safer, for it.

In recognition for his lifetime of giving back to the citizens of Delaware, Vavala is the recipient of the 2023 Waste Masters Solutions Hometown Hero Service Award.

Vavala will be honored during pre-race ceremonies before the Würth 400 NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, April 30, and be presented with a $1,500 check, which has been designated for the Delaware National Guard Youth Camp.

A Wilmington, Del., native, Vavala served as the Adjutant General of the Delaware National Guard for the final 18 years of his active-duty career.

“I was responsible for the full spectrum mission readiness of both the Delaware Army and Delaware Air National Guard,” Vavala said.

This time period included coordinating the Guard’s response to any and all critical situations facing the state, from the tragic terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to hurricanes or fierce snow storms that impacted civilian life for weeks on end. He also found time to root for Dale Earnhardt Jr. during his trips to Dover Motor Speedway – particularly when his No. 88 Chevrolet was sponsored by the National Guard.

His tenure with the Delaware National Guard also saw a focus on community interaction, including the formation of the Guard’s Youth Camp in 1999, which utilizes the Guard’s Bethany Beach, Del., training facility.

“[The Youth Camp] was established to provide a safe, fun-filled environment for the children of service members,” Vavala said. “They are housed at the base and participate in a variety of activities. It’s very diverse and all have the common bond of being part of a military family.”

Now 75, Vavala is retired from full-time military duties, allowing him to spend more time with his wife Jane, their three children and three grandchildren. Service members are never far from his mind, however, as he serves as a part-time Veterans Advocacy Specialist at Delaware Technical & Community College.

“I continue to look for opportunities to give back and sustain an involvement in all aspects of support for our service members and their families,” Vavala said. “It is our responsibility as citizens to care for the holistic needs of all who defend our liberties and freedoms.”

Dover Motor Speedway salutes Francis D. “Frank” Vavala for his lifetime of service and as the recipient of the 2023 Waste Masters Solutions Hometown Hero Service Award.

For more information on the Delaware National Guard and its community outreach projects, visit, follow the Delaware National Guard on social media or call 302-326-7582.