by John Zent, Editorial Director, NRA Publications - Monday, June 22, 2020
The NRA mourns the news that Patriot Ordnance Factory (POF-USA) founder, owner and President Frank DeSomma died June 18 from injuries sustained in a traffic accident in Phoenix, Ariz.
Reaching out to DeSomma’s wife, Tracy, his entire family and the expert team that worked alongside one of the industry’s finest, Doug Hamlin, NRA Publications Executive Director, said, “It was with great sadness that I learned of Frank’s passing. On behalf of everyone at the National Rifle Association I would like to express our deepest condolences to the DeSomma family and all of his associates at Patriot Ordnance Factory (POF). Frank was passionate about freedom and our Second Amendment rights. His passing is a great loss for everyone who shared his commitment for safe and responsible firearm ownership.”
DeSomma’s 2004 design and introduction of the first market-ready, short-stroke, gas-piston-operated AR-15 in 2004 came only two years after the entrepreneur/engineer established POF-USA, working out of his garage to develop the ingenious, clean-running P416. It’s inherent reliability and accuracy immediately gained traction in AR circles, and in short order inspired similar operating systems.
DeSomma spent 28 years working as an aerospace industry engineer, expertise that naturally correlated to firearm manufacturing. POF-USA has gone on to become a leader in selling shooter accessories in addition to its core business, and DeSomma earned more than a dozen firearm-related patents. His company’s Revolution rifle won an American Rifleman Golden Bullseye Award in 2018.
DeSomma’s success at POF-USA is an example that the American dream can still be attained with hard work, determination and innovation. His support for the NRA, the Second Amendment and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms remained unwavering and always on display.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., DeSomma became a firearm enthusiast after moving his family to Arizona. While working long hours to build his company, he nonetheless became a large presence in his home state. “Frank was a true patriot,” commented Scott Lavin, Wildlife Recreation Branch Chief, Arizona Game and Fish (AZGF). His love for this country and its military knew no bounds. He donated his time and resources to many military organizations supporting active duty and veterans of all branches.
Lavin said, “At Luke AFB, Frank was an Honorary Commander, and, most recently, a member of the Blue Blazer Squadron, composed of graduated Honorary Commanders who enjoy staying engaged with the Airmen. The more Frank became involved with Luke, the more his passion for base, the Airmen and their families grew. Frank continued that support through the Fighter Country Partnership. He attended awards ceremonies, including the 56th Fighter Wing Annual Awards, congratulating the Airmen on their amazing efforts and thanking them for their service. Frank was last seen on base flipping burgers in 100-degree-plus temperatures for the Airmen working on the sunbaked flight line.
“As a hunter, recreational shooter, and conservationist, Frank supported the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation,” Lavin said. “He donated to conservation groups and organized competitive shooting events across the state. Applying his business skills, Frank collaborated with AZGF and assisted in building outreach events for larger audiences. He leveraged his brand to recruit additional industry partners to the AZGF Outdoor Recreation Business Summit, sponsoring several meetings to build a more cohesive outdoor business community for the state. In 2018, Frank was recognized as the AZGF Commission Business Partner of the Year.”
Lavin recalled, “DeSomma began his support of the AZGF Outdoor EXPO as a vendor in 2014. From this initial relationship, it became clear that the department and this leading firearm manufacturer shared many of the same values. Frank’s constant participation and passion was immediately felt, his fearless advocacy and debate helped shape many agendas and positively impacted outreach programs. Frank's generosity supported several conservation-partner banquets and outreach events. His leadership role in the firearms industry led to establishing many new contacts and building the Department’s professional reputation and credibility.
“When approached about the concept of holding an industry media range day at the 2018 Outdoor EXPO,” said Lavin, “Frank asked how he could help. POF subsequently leveraged its considerable Rolodex of industry writers and local dealers to help the Department successfully launch this pilot program. His support and marketing expertise expedited the growth of the Arizona Game and Fish Department's outreach strategy.”
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