82nd Airborne Division (Vietnam) Golden Brigade – Vietnam 1968 – 1969


June 4, 2015

COL Joseph Ross Franklin – TAPS (comments updated)

Category: All Messages,Taps – Ron Yorkovich – 1:00 am

franklin.jpg

Col. Joseph Ross Franklin, PhD, USA (Ret), 84, of Pensacola, FL, died Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at home. Col. Franklin was born July 11, 1928 in Honolulu, Hawaii. He attended and graduated from U. S. Military Academy at West Point in 1950. Col. Franklin served in Korea, where he was wounded, and three tours of duty in Vietnam. He was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart, retiring from the U. S. Army after thirty years of service. Col. Franklin received his PhD in Foreign Relations from the American University. He was a member of the Legion of Valor and an active member of Holy Spirit Catholic Church. He is survived by his wife, Nancy Franklin of Pensacola; son, Daniel Franklin of Pensacola; daughter, Jennifer Kellen and husband Joel of Corpus Christi, TX; granddaughter, Emmalee Noel Gough and sister, Dianne Payne.

Inurnment will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, August 03, 2012 at Barrancas National Cemetery with full military honors. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made for Masses at Holy Spirit Catholic Church for our wounded veterans and active duty men and women.

 

He received the Distinguished Service Cross because of his extraordinary heroism in Korea on the night of 6 July 1952. His platoon, occupying an outpost on a tactically important ridge, was subjected to an intense artillery and mortar bombardment immediately followed by a smashing hostile attack. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Lieutenant Franklin moved from position to position through heavy fire, encouraging his men and directing their efforts as they fought to hold back the charging enemy waves. Learning that the perimeter had been breached and that a number of enemy were in the outpost, he led a bayonet charge against the hostile troops. When the automatic rifles used by one of his men refused to function, he gave his carbine to the automatic rifleman, continuing to engage in the struggle with his pistol and grenades. As he led his men against the enemy, a hostile grenade hit him in the shoulder. Before the missile exploded, he pushed two comrades to the ground, enabling them to escape injury or death. When the first two friendly counterattacks failed to dislodge the foe, Lieutenant Franklin organized and led a third charge. Aggressively continuing to advance, even after the ammunition for his pistol had been expended, he killed three of the enemy with accurately hurled grenades. Under his leadership, his men succeeded in driving the hostile troops from the outpost and retained control of the tactically important position. The extraordinary heroism exhibited by Lieutenant Franklin throughout this action reflects great credit on himself and upholds the esteemed traditions of the military service.

During his US Army career he has received 13 individual valor awards from the US Army and 5 from the government of Vietnam. He is the most decorated officer in his West Point class of 1950, receiving every award for valor awarded by the US Army except one. He commanded every unit from a Ranger platoon of 25 men to an airborne brigade of 7,000 men in 48 months of combat in two wars. He was wounded twice. In Vietnam, COL Franklin served as Battalion Commander of the 1/505 PIR 82nd Airborne Division, followed by assignments as 173rd Airborne Brigade Deputy Commander and SOG Deputy Chief. He is airborne and ranger qualified, as well as being a rated Army aviator. He was the deputy of the Peers Commission who investigated the My Lai massacre and was responsible for writing the report that went to the President of the United States and other senior officials.

franklin2.jpg
COL Ross Franklin (Speedster), 173rd Abn Bde Deputy Brigade Commander,
meets with MAJ Tony Juliano, 1/50(M) S-3, on QL19.

In the book of Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hirsh, COVER UP, about the Peers Commission Hirsh writes that General Peers called Colonel Franklin, “the most qualified officer in the United States Army for the job”, in testimony before a secret sub committee session of Congress. Franklin was given less than 12 hours to leave the Congo (Brazzaville), a communist oriented country, when the Prime Minister complained to the US ambassador about his alleged activities attempting to bring down the government. He is a member of the Legion of Valor, an organization of those who hold one of the two highest US awards for valor. He was a student at the French War College (Ecole Superiure de Guerre) in Paris for two years. This school is essential in the French Army to become a general. He was featured in a newspaper article for a charitable project he worked on in the mid ’80’s.

Col Franklin, PhD (doctorate in African studies) lived in a Roman Catholic Monastery for seven years, 1995-2002. His principle duty in the monastery was raising funds through various business ventures for charitable purpose. He professed poverty, obedience and chastity in the monastery. He was a principal in a 60 Minutes documentary TV program where he was a protagonist against a senior officer he had relieved in combat who falsely accused him of war crimes. It was the longest segment produced to that time and won the Emmy award that year. CBS was sued for 60 million USD as a result of this program and Franklin was their principle witness. CBS won the suit, after an evidentiary dispute went to the US Supreme Court.

Citations

Distinguished Service Cross

Awarded for actions during the Korean War

The President of the United States of America, under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to First Lieutenant (Infantry) Joseph Ross Franklin (ASN: 0-62893), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Platoon Leader with an Infantry Company of the 7th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division. First Lieutenant Franklin distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of Sangwan-ni, Korea, on 6 July 1952. Late on that night, Lieutenant Franklin’s platoon, occupying an outpost position on a tactically important ridge, was subjected to an intense artillery and mortar bombardment immediately followed by a smashing hostile attack. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Lieutenant Franklin moved from position to position through heavy fire, encouraging his men and directing their efforts as they fought to hold back the charging enemy waves. Learning that the perimeter had been breached and that a number of the enemy were in the outpost, he led a bayonet charge against the hostile troops. When the automatic rifle used by one of his men refused to function, he gave his carbine to the automatic rifleman, continuing to engage in the struggle with his pistol and grenades. As he led his men against the enemy, a hostile grenade hit him in the shoulder. Before the missile exploded, he pushed two comrades to the ground, enabling them to escape injury or death. When the first two friendly counterattacks failed to dislodge the foe, Lieutenant Franklin organized and led a third charge. Aggressively continuing to advance, even after the ammunition for his pistol had been expended, he killed three of the enemy with accurately hurled grenades. Under his leadership, his men succeeded in driving the hostile troops from the outpost and retained control of the tactically important position. The extraordinary heroism exhibited by Lieutenant Franklin throughout this action reflects great credit upon himself and upholds the esteemed traditions of the military service.

General Orders: Headquarters, Eighth U.S. Army, Korea: General Orders No. 141 (January 24, 1953)

Action Date: 6-Jul-52

Rank: First Lieutenant

Company: Infantry Company

Regiment: 7th Infantry Regiment

Division: 3d Infantry Division

Silver Star

Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918 (amended by an act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Colonel (Infantry) Joseph Ross Franklin (ASN: 0-62893), United States Army, for gallantry in action on 25 May 1972, while serving as Senior Advisor, 21st Infantry Division, Army of the Republic of Vietnam. On this date during the campaign to clear Highway 13 to relieve An Loc, Colonel Franklin, on one of his frequent visits to the area of greatest enemy resistance, moved to the 1st Battalion, 32d Regiment. The battalion was the lead element facing two NVA battalions and was under intense automatic weapons, B-40 wire-guided missile, 122-mm. rocket and 120-mm mortar fire when he arrived. A rocket struck ten feet from him wounding the battalion advisor who had been directing air strikes against the enemy. Colonel Franklin without regard for his own safety under fire moved immediately to render first aid to the advisor until an ARVN medic arrived. He then took over direction of Air Strikes, remaining in an exposed position to best observe the nearby enemy fortifications and direct the strikes. After requesting a helicopter to evacuate the wounded advisor, he selected a landing zone and guided the helicopter’s approach. A few seconds after the aircraft touched down an enemy mortar impacted 15 feet from it. Remaining on the landing zone, exposed to the enemy fire, Colonel Franklin attempted to load a stretcher bearing an ARVN soldier onto the helicopter while it was ascending. As the aircraft rose from the landing zone, the helpless wounded ARVN soldier fell from the helicopter and would have been re-injured but Colonel Franklin caught him breaking his fall. He then moved the wounded soldier to a more secure area while intense mortar and rocket fire continued. Colonel Franklin’s conspicuous gallantry in action was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Army and reflects great credit upon himself and the military service.

General Orders: Headquarters, III Regional Assistance Command, General Orders No. 120 (June 4, 1972)

Action Date: 25-May-72

Service: Army

Rank: Colonel

Company: Advisory Team 51

Division: IV Corps

Soldier’s Medal

Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, takes pleasure in presenting the Soldier’s Medal to Colonel (Infantry) Joseph Ross Franklin (ASN: 0-62893), United States Army, for heroism at the risk of life not involving conflict with an armed enemy. Colonel Franklin distinguished himself by heroic action on 16 April 1972, while serving as Senior Advisor, Advisory Team 51, United States Military Assistance Command, Republic of Vietnam. On this date, at approximately 1245 hours, an enemy 122-mm. rocket hit the Lai Khe ammunition dump containing seven hundred tons of artillery ammunition resulting in continuous series of up to 80 explosions per minute for several hours of 155-mm. shells which were hurled over 1,000 meters. Realizing the essentiality of preserving the POL point located 100 meters from the ammunition dump and vitally needed for relief of An Loc and support of friendly troops engaged against elements of three North Vietnamese Army divisions, Colonel Franklin voluntarily led a PA&E fire truck to the POL point despite the constantly exploding shells and fragments. Placing himself several feet between 100,000 gallons of POL behind a parapet he watched with fire fighting equipment for burning fragments around the POL. He was continually showered by shell fragments which covered the ground for literally thousands of square feet. Despite the imminent danger of one of the fragments or shells hitting the POL tanks which could have resulted in his being instantly incinerated, Colonel Franklin continued his fire watch until the explosion subsided and he was replaced by ARVN soldiers. Under fire resembling a heavy artillery concentration for several hours, Colonel Franklin’s heroic actions at great risk of loss of his own life helped preserve a vital POL point at a critical time in the battle for An Loc and contributed significantly to the results achieved. Colonel Franklin’s heroic actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, III Regional Assistance Command, General Orders (July 8, 1972)

Action Date: 16-Apr-72

Service: Army

Rank: Colonel

Company: Advisory Team 51

16 Comments »

  1. Hooah to COL Franklin – Sir you commissioned me 2LT Infantry DMS Columbus, College on 5 Dec 1975. Never forgot your mentorship, advice and leadership. Served me well during my 29 year career in the US Army. Actually another old comrade COL(RET) Tom Skrodski who served in Veitnam with you asked me if I knew what ever happen to you. I googled your name and located this information on you.
    God Bless Sir!
    v/r
    Fred Hart
    COL USA RET
    Fort Mitchell, AL

    Comment by COL(RET) Fred Hart — February 19, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

  2. COL Franklin served as CO 1/505, July -Dec 68; Deputy Commander 3rd Bde 82d; Deputy Commander 173rd; commanded a brigade in 1st Cav; Advisor to 3rd ARVN ID. Awarded DSC in Korea and SS in VN. He was great.

    Mike Hood

    Comment by Ron Yorkovich — July 26, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

  3. Like any 18 (and 2 weeks) year-old private, I tended to get into a bit of trouble (not all my fault!). The occasion in question (I had not learned yet that disagreements with platoon sergeants and platoon leaders were not negotiable) brought me in front of COL Franklin in his GP small CP. He was an understanding man and, as I came to discover, more insightful that most officers that I met in my 20-year career. To this day, I believe that those 15 minutes with COL Franklin helped steer me towards the man that I became and the career that I pursued. I had the occasion to meet with him at our last Dallas reunion. I don’t think that he rememebered me . . . but I will never forget him. Rest in peace, Sir.

    Ron

    Comment by Ron Yorkovich — July 26, 2012 @ 8:39 pm

  4. I had the privilage of being the Crewchief on the UH-IH helicopter that flew Colonel Franklin while he was the IV Corps Province Advisor in Vietnam (1970-1971). I was assigned to the Green Delta/ Boomrangs platoon of the 191’st AHC Co, 1’st Avn Bge based in Can Tho. Colonel Franklin was the commensorate soldier who was held in great esteem by all of the Vietnamese officials and the military personnel. He has been in my memories for well over forty years and will remain so. May he Rest in Peace.
    With respect.

    Comment by Dick Poore — August 12, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

  5. I met Col Franklin in Pensacola and had the opportunity to spend many Sunday evenings in his home with he and his family. I am a better person and Marine for having gotten to spend time with the Col.

    Semper Fi

    Comment by GySgt Samuel Morgan — September 5, 2012 @ 12:01 pm

  6. I worked for Col Franklin when he was DBC, 173d Airborne Brigade. He was an excellent commander and soldier and a most interesting individual. My last communication with him was an email dtg 10May2010, where he mentioned his abbot was a good leader but wasn’t airborne (well, no one is perfec. Rest in peace, Colonel.
    “AIRBORNE”

    Comment by Terry Sutherland — October 25, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

  7. Farewell, Uncle Ross. Thank you for hosting me at Benning and pinning my new Airborne wings on me.

    Comment by David Alegre — April 22, 2013 @ 2:42 am

  8. I had the good fortune to meet Colonel Franklin and his wife, Nancy, in about 1996. I considered them good friends and truly value the time we spent working together on infrastructure projects around the world on behalf of the monastery. I never heard Ross complain and was impressed by how at peace Ross was with God. Rest in peace my friend! May the grace of God be with you and your family.

    Comment by John Slattery — August 6, 2013 @ 11:27 pm

  9. I have known and loved J. Ross Franklin as both my brother and my Spiritual Director when we (including his beautiful wife Nancy), were part of the BSC in Berryville, Arkansas. It was another lifetime, several years ago, but knowing the two of them, changed my life forever. It saddens my heart to know that this great man is gone, but I am also filled with joy to know he is now serving under the God he loved so very much.

    Knowing there is another angel in Heaven watching over me (especially one with stars and stripes!) will always make me smile as I look up to the heavens to send him a smile, a hug or a tear.

    I love you Ross and Nancy. Many changes have happened in my life since we were all together (I married a Marine – Semper Fi!), but you both have forever left footprints in ths soft rooms of my heart which will never go away.

    May the Lord bless and keep you both forever.

    In His Great Love and Service – Marianne (formerly Sister Anna Maria).

    Comment by Marianne Van Doorn Pérez — October 16, 2013 @ 1:44 am

  10. Colonel Franklin was my Stepgrandfather. He was an extraordinary man. He passed away while I was gone and I wasn’t able to tell him goodbye. Goodbye Colonel.Hold my place in heaven

    Comment by Keith Hagan — March 10, 2014 @ 6:50 pm

  11. I knew Colonel Franklin (then, Lt. Franklin) when he served as a tactical officer at Infantry OCS, Fort Benning, GA.
    I was an officer candidate in his platoon. I am proud to say his confidence in my abilities contributed enormously to my successes at the Infantry School. I was fortunate to speak to Col. Franklin shortly before his passing and had a chance to tell him how much I had valued his confidence and assistance so many years ago. I will never forget him.

    Comment by Hugh R. Cobb — October 26, 2014 @ 3:16 pm

  12. I worked with Col. Franklin in RVN in 1971. I was assigned to MACV Team 96. I was unaware of his prior military achievements. Our work together was a very educational experience for me.

    Capt. Max E.Easley
    MACV Advisory Team 96
    1970-1971

    Comment by Cpt. Max E. Easley — November 15, 2014 @ 10:12 pm

  13. I had the Honor of serving directly under Col. Franklin as Driver and body guard for Col Donaldson in late 1968. He was a great leader to him men and a great friend to all who served under / for him. May he rest in peace.

    Comment by Tom Cummings — March 15, 2015 @ 7:47 pm

  14. I knew Col. Franklin as a child and will never forget his strength of character. God rest your soul.

    Comment by Ben Colbert — June 3, 2015 @ 11:30 pm

  15. What most do not know about the action for which Lt. Franklin was awarded the DSC is that the men he led onto Big Nori were about 75% green/not in combat before.

    Franklin had prepared his company, integrating experienced men and replacements with intense day and night training, training that included aggressive skills such as bayonet, hand-to-hand and free for all fighting harnessed and directed by himself and experienced NCO’s. His Platoon Sergeant was awarded the Silver Star Medal for that action.

    David A. Strongin
    US Army (Ret) Fld1st
    I Co. 7th IR

    Comment by David A. Strongin — November 29, 2016 @ 4:02 pm

  16. Hi David; This website is no longer maintained. For Chapter information visit http://www.goldenbrigade.org. For finding buddies and participating in conversations and war stories with other Golden Brigade veterans, please join our Facebook group (we have over 400 members). Pass the word – let’s get everyone involved!

    Ron Yorkovich

    Comment by Ron Yorkovich — December 12, 2016 @ 2:18 pm

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