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OBITUARY

Joseph Powel Franklin

August 28, 1933March 8, 2017
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JOSEPH POWEL FRANKLIN Born 28 August, 1933, in Cumberland, Maryland, attended public school through sixth grade. When World War II ended, entered McDonogh School in Baltimore, Maryland, completed high school and won appointment to West Point. Entered West Point 3 July 1951, lettered in football and golf, and graduated in top ten percent of the Class of 1955. Commissioned in the Corps of Engineers and completed Airborne and Ranger training. He and his wife, Constance Marie Smith, who grew up together, were married in March 1956, and enjoyed the rest of their lives together with their four sons. First assignment was to Karlsruhe, Germany. Served as platoon leader and company commander in the 499th and 78th Combat Engineer Battalions, and the 502nd Floating Bridge Company. Selected for graduate schooling at MIT in 1959, earned Master's Degrees in Civil and Nuclear Engineering. In 1961 joined the Nuclear Power Field Office at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, as Project Manager for the design and construction of the world's first floating nuclear power plant, the SS Sturgis. In 1963 led a team of enlisted specialists to dismantle the nuclear power plant located at Camp Century, on the Greenland icecap, 300 miles from the North Pole. This involved the first-time shutdown and disassembly of an operating nuclear power plant. His team of soldiers accomplished the shutdown, disassembly, and movement of the highly radioactive components of the nuclear power plant to CONUS in eighteen months. Greenland duty included inspecting the nuclear power plant and measuring residual radiation levels after shutdown, before work began on disassembly. Did this alone, prohibiting soldiers from entering areas that might be highly radioactive. Actually measured 2,000 Rad field. Took less than two minutes, but absorbing some 60 Rads probably contributed to the cancers that appeared several years later. Cancers required advanced treatment as he reached eighty years old, but never caused him to lose a day of active duty. In 1965 completed the Engineer Officer's Advanced Course and was assigned to the Department of Military Art and Engineering at West Point. Wrote a new, full-year curriculum in Nuclear Engineering as an alternative for the Civil Engineering course required for all First Class cadets. This course remained unchanged for 40 years, and then was expanded to become a Major Course of Study. 1968 was a year of study at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, followed by assignment in 1969 to US Army Vietnam. Initially oversaw construction of diesel power plants for sites from the Mekong Delta to the northern provinces of South Vietnam. Subsequently commanded the 299th Combat Engineer Battalion, conducting combat operations in Vietnam and Cambodia. In 1970 assigned to the Office of Plans and Policy, J-5. Led the study that was the basis for recasting the United States' nuclear weapons arsenal under the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT). Attended the Army War College in 1972, and was assigned as Army Staff Group Executive for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1973. In 1975 went to Fort Knox, Kentucky, to command the 4th and 5th Combat Training Brigades after merging them into a single unit. Transferred back to the Pentagon in 1977 as Special Assistant to the Director of the Joint Staff. In 1979 West Point had a "cheating scandal" involving take-home exams and women had joined the Corps of Cadets. General Andrew Goodpaster was brought back on active duty as Superintendent, and selected Joe, just promoted to Brigadier General, to be the new Commandant of Cadets. Led the Cadet Honor Committee to review and strengthen the Honor System. Also persuaded the Army to assign a senior non-commissioned officer to each cadet battalion, and later to each cadet company. In 1982 was assigned to Hawaii as Assistant Division Commander of the 25th Infantry Division. Promoted to Major General in 1983 and assigned as Chief of the Joint US Military Group in Madrid, Spain. Spain had just joined NATO. Worked with the Spanish military to align their Armed Forces with NATO standards. When his tour ended in 1987, he was awarded Spain's highest decoration for foreign military officers. Retired in Spain and formed a Spanish company: Franklin Sociedad Anonima. Worked with American companies to expand business in Spain, and Spanish companies to do the same in the US. In 1992 returned to the United States when he was recruited to become the Chairman and CEO of Frequency Electronics, Inc. (FEIC) an American Stock Exchange Company that designs and builds high precision timing and frequency components for space, defense, and commercial applications. FEIC and four senior executives had been indicted on charges that included a number of highly classified space contracts. Brought this case to a satisfactory conclusion, exonerating all four officers who had been indicted. Stepped down from CEO in 2002 and remains Chairman of the Board at FEIC. Turned his attention to giving back to West Point, and began his service with the Association of Graduates in 1993 on the Alumni Support Committee. Elected to the Board of Trustees, appointed Chairman of the Alumni Support Committee, and Vice Chairman of the AOG, where he served for four years. Was a driving force behind the Bicentennial Campaign, exceeding its $150 million goal by $75 million. Also orchestrated many changes that brought governance of the AOG into compliance with new statutes associated with not-for-profit organizations. In 2007 was recognized as a Distinguished Graduate of West Point. Throughout his life of service as an Army officer, scholar, diplomat, and business leader, Joseph P. Franklin dedicated himself to the principles of Duty, Honor, Country. General Franklin is survived by his wife of 61 years, Constance, four sons, Bill, Perry, Philip and Dean, eight grandchildren and a sister Jean Wittich , Baltimore, Maryland. Memorial contributions may be made to the West Point AOG Class of ‘55 or charity of choice. Visitation: March 18, 2-6 PM at Murphy Funeral Home 4510 Wilson Blvd. Arlington VA. Interment at Arlington Cemetery, at a later date.

Services

  • Memorial Visitation

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

Memories

Joseph Powel Franklin

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August 8, 2017

Was nice knowing you, Joe.

Rest in Peace,

Ed Mesko
McDonogh '53

June 12, 2017

Connie,
Please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss. I was a young Air Force Captain at a remote site in Spain when you and LTG Franklin took me and my family under your wing. I have always been thankful for getting to know both of you. Thank you for the memories and bless you and the family.
Chris Gaston (Satellite Beach, FL)

Billy and Marian Kraft

April 13, 2017

So sorry for your loss.

William Rems

April 10, 2017

As a young 1lt in 1969, I served under then LTC Joseph Franklin, the 299th Combat Engineer Battalion Commander in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam.
LTC Franklin was the most inspiring officer that I ever met during my time in the military. Through his leadership the 299th became the most outstanding Battalion in the 18th Engineering Brigade.
It is with great sorrow that I learned of his passing. His life record of should be an inspiration to us all.
William W. Rems

William Rems

April 10, 2017

Malcolm Philips

March 20, 2017

Connie: General Franklin (I knew him as Major Franklin) taught me Nuclear Engineering at West Point. He was such an awesome Professor and role model that I followed his path to Corp of Eng,, Vietnam, Grad School in Nuclear Engineering and then the Engineering Power Group at Fort Belvoir where I was OIC of the SM1 Nuclear Power Plant -- same type of path that he took (I just read an old email he wrote about the PM3A experience he had with the Power Group -- he was so respected in that Group as well.) In short, he changed the direction of my life!! And I am just one of many that he impacted in ways he never knew -- but we did. I am certain that I will see him again in the future. God Bless you and your family -- I am so sorry for your loss. Malcolm Philips

Robert Hoffmann

March 18, 2017

Connie, Bill, & Family,

Please accept the sincerest condolences from Julia and I at this time of Joe's passing. We met you both towards the end of Joe's life as we are residents of Garrett County and enjoy the lake as you have for many years. We enjoyed talking with you and Joe at different dinners about unique military experiences over the years of our respective careers. We pray the good Lord will give you peace and strength in this difficult time of sorrow and loss.
Warmest Regards, Bob Hoffmann, Brig Gen Air Force (Retired)

Susan Teunis

March 18, 2017

What a sad time, Dear Connie, to lose the love of your life. My thoughts and prayers
are on you and your family.
Susan Teunis (and your Mah Jongg buddies)

Michael Poel

March 18, 2017

My sincerest condolences on General Franklin's passing. He was truly an inspiration to others he touched. We were awed by what he accomplished, how he led, and the goodness that he shared.

Chris Fee

March 18, 2017

Dearest Connie, Kevin and I send our heartfelt condolences to you and your family during this very difficult time. We will always remember meeting Joe by chance on a flight to Florida. There was an immediate connection; followed by my chance meeting with you at the gym in our home town a couple years later! Our friendship was meant to be. Kevin and I feel honored and blessed to have you both in our lives. We love you and will miss our dear Joe.

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