The mission was to move to Hill 783 and make
assessments of B-52 strikes there. Tracer-5 remained about
three hundred meters in front of the company throughout the
movement. At approximately 1100 hours, the team arrived at the
first bomb crater along the planned route of travel. The
team proceeded in a zigzag fashion, after being informed that they
were entering an area containing an enemy bunker complex which was
spotted from the air. As the team proceeded up the side of a
small ridge, a team member spotted approximately twelve enemy about
one hundred meters to the team’s right flank. Specialist
Franklin and the team opened fire, as the enemy began an all-out
assault on the team’s position. Although completely exposed to
the enemy’s savage fire, Sp4 Franklin and his team were able to kill
seven of the enemy and send the remainder of the hostile force into
disorganized retreat. After only moments of quiet, the team
noticed sniper positions in the trees and in spider holes along a
ridge about one hundred and fifty meters from the team’s position.
The enemy was firing on the company to the team’s rear. Sp4
Franklin helped in the direction of helicopter gunship runs across
the enemy positions, despite the knowledge that his position would
be compromised. Company A was forced to drop back about three
hundred meters, leaving a distance of approximately six hundred
meters between the company and the team. Tracer-5 held its
defensive position for about three hours, then decided to return to
the company’s position.
The team began its movement. Approximately
two hundred meters had been covered, when a member of the team
detected some enemy bunkers. Sp4 Franklin checkout out the
area, discovering that the team was upon a well camouflaged bunker
complex which had been partially exposed by the heavy gunship fire.
(Apparently, the enemy allowed the team to pass through the complex
earlier in hopes of engaging the larger force to their rear.)
After checking about six bunkers, Sp4 Franklin detected an NVA
soldier in one of the bunkers and eliminated him. A large
tunnel opening was found and a grenade dropped inside. An NVA
started out of another bunker, and another team member eliminated
him. Immediately, the team began receiving heavy sniper fire.
The team moved quickly for about fifty meters and then resumed their
normal pace. As the team neared the first bomb crater site, it
came under intense machinegun and small arms fire. Sp4
Franklin doubled up and rolled into the foxhole, but was only
faking. When another member of the team followed him into the
hole, Sp4 Franklin was told that the other team members were no
longer with them, being split up because of the intense fire.
They were in an enemy crossfire, receiving two explosive rounds,
B-40 rockets, which hit approximately fifteen meters from their
position, in addition to machinegun and small arms fire. The
team leader called the company and gave them their status. The
company replied that they were sending a platoon to assist.
Still under fire, Sp4 Franklin and his comrade hurled grenades at
the machinegun position, silencing it and the small arms fire.
Two enemy soldiers were spotted and the team leader eliminated them.
Then minutes later, Sp4 Franklin and the team leader crawled to the
machinegun position, finding three enemy dead. From that
position, Sp4 Franklin and his comrade detected, engaged and killed
three more enemy. The company raised them on the radio,
telling them that it was imperative for them to reach the company’s
location before dusk. As Sp4 Franklin and his comrade moved
toward the company’s location, they again came under intense fire
from an enemy position about twenty five meters to their right.
The man threw grenades, silencing the machinegun, but they continued
to receive small arms fire from enemy in two spider holes. The
team leader was able to kill one of the enemy, but the other had Sp4
Franklin pinned down. He was wounded severely in the kneecap.
Despite his wound, Sp4 Franklin helped his comrade adjust helicopter
gunship fire and eliminate the enemy. Ten minutes later, the
platoon from A company radioed the men, informing them that the
platoon was taking heavy casualties and was turning back. The
two men crawled to the bomb crater and waited there until dusk.
Sp4 Franklin had lost a great amount of blood and was unable to
travel quickly, so the two men moved slowly through the enemy
infested terrain. After only a very short distance, the team
leader picked up Sp4 Franklin, carrying him, both rifles and the
radio. After about fifty to seventy five meters, they were
both physically unable to go further. They rested there for
approximately fifteen minutes. Sp4 Franklin volunteered to
crawl behind the team leader, and they covered another hundred
meters in this manner. Suddenly, the two men came upon an
enemy bunker. The team leader engaged the enemy he had
detected and killed him with a burst of rifle dire, but an
undetected enemy in a bunker heaved grenades at the men, endangering
both their lives. Sp4 Franklin was becoming extremely weak
from loss of blood, his eyesight was failing. He knew that he
couldn’t make it, and he was sure that if he couldn’t, his team
leader would. With every bit of strength that he could muster,
he crawled to the bunker and killed the enemy with his only weapon,
a grenade. The explosion amputated his right arm, and he was
bleeding to death. The team leader stayed by his side, but Sp4
Franklin insisted that his comrade move to the company location.
Finally, the team leader left and the next morning was able to
return, but Sp4 Franklin was then beyond help.
Specialist Four James A. Franklin displayed
courage and professionalism while trying to return through the enemy
infested territory, and made the greatest sacrifice to save his
fellow soldier’s life. His actions are consistent with the
highest and most cherished military traditions and reflect great
credit on himself, his unit, and the United States Army.