General Tommy Franks
Tommy Franks was born June 17, 1945, in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, to Ray and Lorene Franks. When he was 9, the family moved to the oil booming town of Midland, Texas where he graduated from Robert E. Lee High School one year ahead of First Lady Laura Bush. After two years at the University of Texas, he joined the United States Army and in 1967, as a distinguished graduate of the Artillery Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and sent to Viet Nam.
His service in Viet Nam earned him six awards for Valor and three Purple Hearts. That assignment was the start of a long and distinguished career that would take him for one world hot spot to another - from West Germany at the height of the Cold War to the Demilitarized Zone in Korea, to the deserts of Arabia--where he gained the knowledge and experience that would prepare him for the leadership role that would mark his place in the annals of American History.
Along the way, General Franks attended the University of Texas, Arlington, where he graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration, and Shippensburg University where he graduated with a Masters Degree in Public Administration. He is also a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and the Army War College.
He was the U.S. general leading the attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan in response to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon. Franks also led the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and was commander-in-chief of the American occupation forces.
As General in the United States Army, he was serving as the Commander-in-Chief of United States Central Command, overseeing United States Armed Forces operations in a 25-country region, including the Middle East when he retired July 7, 2003
The General's awards include five Distinguished Service Medals, four Legions of Merit, four Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts in addition to numerous foreign awards. He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) by order of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on May 25, 2004. And President George W. Bush awarded him the Nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom on December 14, 2004.
General Franks has received honorary degrees from a number of Universities including his alma mater, Shippensburg University and his wife's alma mater, Oklahoma State University.
The General serves on the Board of Directors of the National Park Foundation and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Foundation. He is an advisor to the Central Command Memorial Foundation and the Military Child Education Coalition, and is a spokesman for the Salute America's Heroes Foundation and the Southeastern Guide Dogs Organization.
General Franks and his wife, Cathryn Carley Franks, have one daughter who is married to a military officer and three grandchildren. The Franks divide their time between their home in Tampa, Florida and their ranch in Roosevelt, Oklahoma. Mrs. Franks’ parents are from Roosevelt.
President George W. Bush calls Franks, "a down to earth, no-nonsense guy." His troops call him, "a soldier's General," and his associates call him, "an astute businessman." His grandkids call him, "Pooh."
CENTRAL COMMAND IN NEW HANDS
TAMPA - American military leadership for a volatile region passes to a new general.
-By George Coryell of The Tampa Tribune
Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni handed over control of the U. S. Central Command on Thursday to Army Gen. Tommy Franks, who became leader of American forces in much of the middle East.
Franks was promoted to four-star general by Army Gen. Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, immediately before the change-of-command ceremony at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel's Grand Ballroom. Along with Shelton, Secretary of Defense William Cohen attended the ceremony to praise Zinni's performance.
(Reprinted from The Tampa Tribune, Friday, July 7, 2000.)
July 21, 2005