Colleagues and friends of Frederick Franks, Jr., Senior Advisor and Honorary Board Member of Home Base, gathered at the Kensington Golf & Country Club in Naples, FL to present the retired four-star U.S. Army General with the General Frederick M. Franks Endowment, celebrating his legacy and work in the Southwest Florida (SW FL) community.
“Gen. Franks is an iconic leader that, in true cavalry fashion, drives to success. He is never satisfied with ‘today’ because he is always fighting for the future and seeking better care for our Veterans”, said Home Base Executive Director, (ret.) Brigadier General Jack Hammond. “He inspires each of us at Home Base, and this Endowment is really the embodiment of success, ensuring in perpetuity that we have a program in place in SW FL so he can continue serving his community.”
“It is through the generosity of the Kensington community – where Gen. Franks and his wife reside – and funds raised at their annual golf fundraiser that we were able to establish this Endowment in his name,” added Home Base Chief Operating Officer, Michael Allard, “It’s a fitting legacy for a colleague, and friend, who truly embodies the Home Base mission.”
A 1959 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Gen. Franks served in the Vietnam War, earning 4 awards for valor that includes the Silver Star, and two Purple Hearts. After being severely wounded in combat in Cambodia in 1970 and having his left leg amputated below the knee, he fought to remain on active duty in a combat unit and was permitted by the US Army to do so, what he calls, ‘life’s great privilege.’
Gen. Franks is perhaps best known for his role commanding the first Gulf War coalition 146,00 Soldier VII Corps in the successful “Left Hook” maneuver against over ten Iraqi divisions. He and the VII Corps decisively defeated the Iraqi Army in an 89-hour 250-kilometer attack with fewer than 100 American casualties lost to enemy action. This feat of generalship is unmatched in the annals of modern warfare. There has never been such a large-scale combat deployment of ground troops since, and the campaign is studied as a textbook battle plan by U.S. armored units.
When Gen. Franks returned from the Vietnam War where he had served as an operations officer, he had become very familiar with what he calls “the visible wounds of war.” The retired Army general had to have his left leg amputated after being severely wounded in Cambodia. He also experienced the less obvious scars combat often inflicts on soldiers.
“I followed post-traumatic stress (PTS) since Vietnam, really, because I saw a lot of my fellow soldiers who had emotional adjustments where they needed some help,” Franks said. “PTS was giving its formal name in 1980, five years after the war ended.” Gen. Franks retired from active-duty in 1994 and today, more than 4 decades after the end of the Vietnam War, continues to work in public service, dedicating his life to be a advocate for Wounded Warriors through his work at Home Base.
One of those Veterans who has benefited from Home Base in SW FL is Naples resident Deborah Todd. From 1998 to 2006, she served in the Air Force rising to the rank of E-5 or staff sergeant. As a medic, she provided care for critical care soldiers including those who had undergone amputations. “Home Base helped me transition from military to civilian life,” she said, “and get back to the hometown I no longer knew. The biggest thing people miss from the military is the camaraderie. In Home Base, you know they are there for you. Gen. Franks and the Home Base team is a huge part of me being a healthy whole person.”
Under Gen. Franks’ leadership, the program has grown exponentially, serving more than 130 Post-9/11 SW FL Veterans through the Warrior Health and Fitness Program, and connecting 12 SW FL Veterans to clinical care through Home Base’s 2-week Intensive Clinical Program (ICP) at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA.