A lot has changed in 46 years. On average, most NCOs born that year would be retired for at least three years. The average officers born in 1972 would be getting ready to rite. In 1972 as the US involvement in Vietnam was winding down the Army still had the draft and Bob Franks would have raised his right hand and taken the commissioned officers’ oath as he pinned on his 2nd Lieutenant rank.

A lot has changed in 46 years. On average, most NCOs born that year would be retired for at least three years. The average officers born in 1972 would be getting ready to rite. In 1972 as the US involvement in Vietnam was winding down the Army still had the draft and Bob Franks would have raised his right hand and taken the commissioned officers’ oath as he pinned on his 2nd Lieutenant rank.

For a 46 year vet of Army service, he’s seen a lot even though it was not the path he was hoping for.

“When I graduated from college, I was supposed to be in the medical corps,” said Franks, a 1972 graduate of the University of Wisconsin. “I went to college to be a doctor. When I got to the end of my third year in ROTC, the cadre said they didn’t have any more slots in the medical corps so they wanted to place me in the infantry. I said, ‘I think not. I had so many ‘ology classes; biology, immunology serology, pathology, that I never thought of being in the infantry. They allowed me to select a branch so I selected ordnance even though I knew nothing about it.”

After 30 years as an Army officer and 16 years as a Department of the Army civilian, currently serving as the Deputy Commander of Army Field Support Battalion-Bragg, Franks is retiring.

Since becoming the director of what was called the Readiness Business Center, Franks has seen a lot of changes. The directorate would transfer from one MACOM to another, his work force would transition from government employees to contractors, the complexity of the commands at Bragg would grow and the types of deployments he had to be ready would change drastically.

“Our biggest challenge here is with the 14 MACOMs represented here and 33 brigades is prioritization of support and coming up with all of the capabilities you need to sustain a force this size," said Franks.

“We have to be able to do logistic analysis and figure out how to perform the mission with loss of capability while still sustaining the Soldiers here at Bragg and those deployed, I really credit it to the experience of our work force. We have so many retirees that understand the Army and the requirements for the Soldier. They are so dedicated that they will not allow the mission to fail.”

“Our mottos is, ‘A little less hooah, and a lot more dooah, eliminates the pooah.”

Under Franks’ leadership, the AFSBN-Bragg, and the many titles it has gone by over the years, has earned numerous awards and recognition.

“The greatest accomplishments as a team for me were introducing new features in maintenance, supply and in transportation. We completed for and won the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Maintenance Excellence Award three years in a row and the Deployment Excellence Award three times. We’ve also won the Connolly Cup competition for an installation over 9 times. No other installation has won those awards that many times.”

As a Soldier, Franks credits his time as a brand new 1st Lieutenant and being selected as a company commander as one of the factors that kept him from leaving military service.

“Col. James McKnight, my battalion commander had faith in me to be a Lt. company commander,” said Franks of his first assignment to Germany. “I would not have had the intestinal fortitude to give a company to a brand new 1st Lt. who had not even been to the advanced course the command, but he did.

“I had a great mentors, NCOs and officers that took me under their wings. A few months after taking command we had an old fashion Inspector General inspection. We received 35 out of 36 commendable ratings and one satisfactory. No other unit in the 8th Infantry Div had ever gotten that type of rating during an IG inspection. I never had that kind of unit that had that kind of espirit de corps again. I still keep in contact with my First Sergeant, Robert Woolard.

This was not the time for me to get out. Being the company commander made me realize I could be all that I can be in the Army. It really spired me on to bigger and better things.”

It was not until 1979 when Franks had his first of three assignments to Fort Bragg. Some still hold lasting memories

“During my second tour I was the aid for the XVIII Airborne Corps Deputy Commanding General BG Jack B. Farris. He was a marathon runner and when we deployed to Grenada, he would run the beaches at sunrise. The MPs told me they only did a coursery sweep of the beach for mines and that the general and I should not be running on them. The next morning I told the general and he said, ‘That’s okay. Just run out ahead on me and keep your eyes open.’ So I did, and I was scared to death.”

As a civilian, these types of experiences continued.

“A lady came in for plane tickets for a PCS move. She had a white duck in a diaper on a leash with her. She was trying to pass it off as a service animal because she wanted to take this duck on an airplane free of charge.

Another time, a colonel came in once and wanted his poodle, Fee Fee, to ride the plane free of charge because he considered the poodle part of his family. After a while I asked him if Fee Fee was in enrolled in DEERS as a family member. He said 'no', so I said 'I sorry sir, Fee Fee is not entitled to a free ticket on a government aircraft.'”

In his 30 years in the Army Franks says he got to do every challenging assignments he wanted and all were rewarding,” Franks, who has seen nine of his junior officers rise to be generals, added. “I met a many great people both civilian and military that were inspirational to me.”