A four-star army general with a storied military career from Vietnam and beyond lives right here in Southwest Florida. Twenty-five years into retirement, he remains committed to fulfilling the trust that’s owed to all who serve.
Fred Franks, a retired U.S. Army general, reflects on his more than 35 years in service.
In 1970, Franks was wounded in Cambodia. His leg was amputated from below the knee, but it was not long before he went back to active duty in the combat unit.
“I really wanted to stay in the Army,” Franks said. “I didn’t want to do anything other than be a soldier.”
But when soldiers returned from Vietnam, there were no parades, only protests against an unpopular war like at the 1967 national rally in Washington D.C. Soldiers got caught in the crossfire of blame, and their trust in military officials and the American people were broken.
“Duty, honor, country, didn’t it mean anything?” Franks said. “These young people went, did what our country asked. So that lit a hot blue flame in me. That for the rest of my service, for the rest of my life, I would devote myself to seeing to it that trust was never fractured again.”
Gen. Franks is best known for serving in Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War and leading the VII Corps of the U.S. in a famous maneuver that forced the retreat of the Iraqi Army.
“What we call the left-hook attack,” Franks said. “There wasn’t a day on Desert Storm that I didn’t remember my fellow veterans.”
Through he retired in 1994, Franks never stopped thinking about the troops, especially those returning from war with both visible and invisible wounds.
“I can understand and relate to some of these issues that our current veterans have,” Franks said.
A longtime Naples resident, Franks still works tirelessly on behalf of veterans. He is senior advisor and an honorary board member of Home Base Veteran and Family Care in Boston. He also spearheaded the local chapter of Home Base — Southwest Florida Warrior Health and Fitness — which specializes in workouts, nutrition, stress management and more to local veterans at no charge.
“There’s no quit in any of us, in our service to our veterans,” Franks said.
During his military service, Franks earned numerous awards, including the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts. He even collaborated with Author Tom Clancy on a 2004 book, “Into the Storm: A Study in Command,” which is part memoir.