SP/4 Franklin was assistant team leader for reconnaissance team Tracer-5 on operation near Polei Kleng.  Our mission was to act as point element for Company A, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry, as we moved to Hill 783 to make assessments of B-52 strikes there.  We moved out and maintained distance of approximately three hundred meters between ourselves and the company.  At approximately 1100 hours, we came upon the first of the bomb craters, and were informed by radio that we were entering an enemy bunker complex.  E found no sign of the enemy, but proceeded cautiously in a zigzag reconnaissance fashion on the same azimuth.  Minutes later, as the team started up a ridge line, we spotted approximately twelve enemy to our right flank.  The enemy force began an assault on the team from a distance of approximately one hundred meters.  SP/4 Franklin opened fire with his M-16 and the other team members followed his lead, unleashing all our fire power and eliminating seven of the enemy.  As the remainder of the enemy force fled, Sp/4 Franklin spotted scattered enemy soldiers on a ridge line about one hundred meters away.  The enemy were firing on the company to our rear.  Despite the knowledge that they would be compromising their position, the team elected to throw smoke and direct gunship fire on the enemy, silencing their guns.  The company radioed the team, notifying them that they were dropping back about three hundred meters because of heavy enemy fire, and leaving a distance of approximately six hundred meters between the team and the company.  After holding their position for about three hours, the team began to make their way back to the company’s location.  The team had moved approximately two hundred meters, when Sp/4 Franklin detected some enemy bunkers.  After a closer investigation, the team was aware that they were in the midst of a huge enemy bunker complex.  (apparently, the enemy allowed the team to proceed through the complex earlier in hopes of engaging the larger company size force to their rear)  SP/4 Franklin detected an enemy soldier in a bunker and eliminated him.  Another enemy was spotted trying to escape and he was eliminated.  A tunnel opening was discovered and a grenade dropped inside.  Immediately, the team began receiving heavy enemy fire.  We moved quickly for about fifty meters and then resumed our normal pace.  As the team approached the first bomb crater, they were taken under fire by enemy small arms and automatic weapons.  SP/4 Franklin doubled up and rolled into a foxhole.  I turned to give a verbal command to the remainder of the team, but couldn’t make visual contact and followed SP/4 Franklin into the foxhole.  He was unhurt and was only taking cover.  We called the company, and they replied that they would be sending a platoon to assist.  The enemy had us in a crossfire, using small arms, automatic weapons and B-40 rockets, two of which exploded approximately fifteen meters from our position.  Despite the heavy fire, SP/4 Franklin hurled two grenades into the machinegun bunker, silencing it and the small arms fire simultaneously.  Two enemy were detected trying to escape through the bamboo and were eliminated.  We crawled to a machinegun bunker and found three dead NVA.  We held that position for a few short minutes and then again began to receive sniper fire.  We were able to eliminate one of the soldiers, but the other kept us pinned down.  Finally, we were able to eliminate him.  We began moving again to the company’s location, and again received sniper fire.  Sp/4 Franklin was severely wounded in the knee before we could eliminate the enemy by directing gunship fire on the position.  Ten minutes later, the platoon radioed that they were taking heavy casualties and were turning back.  We had to make it back on our own.  I carried Sp/4 Franklin until we were both exhausted.  After a rest, Sp/4 Franklin volunteered to crawl behind me, and we moved in that manner for approximately one hundred meters.  Suddenly, several enemy in a bunker close to the trail began hurling grenades at our position.  I was blinded for a few moments and when I regained my sight, I saw SP/4 Franklin crawl up to the bunker, an explosion go off the his body fall back about five meters.  SP/4 Franklin’s arm has been severed and he was bleeding to death.  I wanted to give him first aid, but there was nothing I could do to stop his bleeding.  After spending a few moments with him, I moved to the company, but when I returned with a volunteer patrol, there was nothing more that could be done.

 SP/4 Franklin gave his life so that I could live.  The enemy didn’t even see him crawling behind me and were most likely just aiming their grenades at me, but he used his last grenade, saving my life. His courage and devotion to duty, while up against enormous odds, reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the United States Army.






James A. Franklin Awarded the Distinguished Service Cross 

eyewitness Randolph T. Chrietzberg

click to see eyewitness reports

eyewitness Chietzburg        eyewitness Pizarski       eyewitness Joslin

Thank you  from the men of the A-1-8

Specialist Four James A. Franklin distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism on 12 March 1969, while serving as assistant team leader for a reconnaissance team, Tracer-5, acting as point for his unit, A Company 1/8th Infantry, near Polei Kleng, in the Central Highlands, Republic of Vietnam. 

James Franklin Vietnam 1969
James Franklin 1969
James Franklin and Runkle Vietnam 1969
James Franklin and Runkle Central Highlands 1969