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Welcome to www.ussfranklin.org.  I invite you to leave USS Franklin comments below. I am also looking for people interested in contributing to this site.  Please contact me at franklin@ussfranklin.org with any information you may have.

Update Feb 2013, I have set up a “Forum” tab as a more appropriate place to leave comments for everybody to see.

The forum is here: http://www.ussfranklin.org/?page_id=393

Thank You.

Obituary, Edward Slagle

Edward, of Mason, formerly of Montgomery, Ohio, Brooksville, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio, passed peacefully on September 6 from natural causes at the age of 92. He was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Lois Shannon, and survived by his children Laura, Tom and Jim, daughter-in-law JoAnn, grandchildren Leah and Paul, and great grandchildren McKinzie and Landon, all of whom visited his bedside during his final challenge. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Slovenian-American parents, Ed served on the USS Franklin aircraft carrier during WWII. He married his Collinwood High School sweetheart Lois while on shore leave. After the war, Ed toured with the Ray Anthony Orchestra and other big bands before settling down to raise a family in South Euclid, Ohio. He earned a mechanical engineering degree at Case Tech and worked for many years at Picker X-Ray and Liebel-Flarsheim. His career as a musician (saxophone and clarinet) brought joy to thousands, and most especially Eddie. In the 1950s he played weekly on the “Polka Varieties” live television program in Cleveland. He was inducted into the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame in 2006. Moving to Southwestern Ohio in the early 1970s, he played with a variety of bands, including Maple Knoll and Jack Carr bands. Ed loved golf and boating, his family and his music. In “retirement”, Lois and Ed founded SS Specialties, a drafting-instruments company that they could manage from both Ohio and Florida, where they had a second home. Ed was a lifetime member of the musician’s union. Ed’s fulfilling life, kindness and buoyant spirit will be celebrated in private memorial services. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Ed was a member of the VFW band in Mason.

Published in The Cincinnati Enquirer on Sept. 21, 2014 – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/cincinnati/obituary.aspx?n=edward-slagle&pid=172519516&fhid=17229&eid=sp_ommatch#sthash.LCBxMDg9.dpuf

Obituary, Jess Rand

December 25, 1925 – September 12, 2014 Jess Rand, born in the Bronx, NY. Graduate of Dewitt Clinton High School. Studied journalism at Columbia University. At age 16, began his musical career with Irving Berlin in NY. His career was put on hold to enlist in the US Navy/1943-1946 where he served in the Pacific (Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Philippines Liberation). Served on USS Franklin CV-13. Honorably discharged as Signalman, PO 2nd class. After the War, he became close confidant and press agent for Sammy Davis Jr and personal manager to Sam Cooke. Rand represented great stars including Lee Marvin, Mel Torme, Glen Campbell, Judy Collins, Bobbie Gentry, The Lettermen, Mort Sahl and Dick Gautier. In 1961, produced The Plunderers with Jeff Chandler. He created a 90-minute episode of “Sam Cooke Phenomenon”/debut show for the Westinghouse Broadcasting TV Network. Continued working as Personal Manager until 1991/co-founder and served as President of Conference of Personal Managers West until he moved to Montecito, CA in 1986 with wife Bonnie Rand. Next to his family, Rand’s greatest love was music. Rand is survived by Bonnie Rand, loving wife of 60 yrs, son, Jonathan, daughter, Amy, 4 grandchildren and great grand-child.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Sept. 17 to Sept. 21, 2014
– See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/latimes/obituary.aspx?n=jess-rand&pid=172487241&eid=sp_ommatch#sthash.BQB1lEUm.dpuf

Obituary, Kenneth Thompson

Kenneth ThompsonKenneth K. Thompson

Kenneth K. Thompson, much beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend, died surrounded by those who loved him on Friday, August 29th in his home in Union (Wa).

Ken was born in 1924 in Wilson, Oklahoma and grew up during the depression in the Dust Bowl. His early hard-dash scrabble life gave him a drive to succeed.

He joined the Marines at 17 and served proudly in the famous Black Sheep Squadron. He was serving as Ships Company aboard the USS Ben Franklin when it was bombed off the coast of Japan in 1945.

After WWII, he settled in Santa Barbara, California, married, raised a family, and went into business.

Ken was instrumental in the post war building boom in Santa Barbara. He eventually joined in the development of full-service car washes and finished his career in Dallas, Texas as a sales representative and distributor of car wash equipment. He was a successful entrepreneur and owner of seven car washes in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metro-plex.

In his spare time, Ken enjoyed golf (golf, golf, and more golf!) football, flying his Cessna and a good cigar.

His memorial will be held on Sunday, September 7th at 1:00 p.m. in the Alderbrook Golf and Yacht Clubhouse in Union (Wa).

If you wish, in lieu of flowers, please remember Ken with a donation to the New Community Church of Union (NCCU) building fund- (P.O. Box 232, Union, WA, 98592.)

Obituary, Edward Loeffler

Edward “Big Ed” Loeffler

Great Falls —Edward Gene Loeffler, 87, died of chronic kidney disease early Sunday morning, August 17, 2014, at Peace Hospice.

“Big Ed” requested no services. Schnider Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Born on September 17, 1926 in Aberdeen, South Dakota, he ran away from home to join the Navy in 1943. He served as a gunner’s mate on the USS Franklin during World War II. He met and married his wife Zita Guza in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 18, 1951. Ed made the Navy his career for 20 years achieving the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer. After his retirement in 1963, Ed served another 10 years inactive duty in the Fleet Reserve.

In 1964, Ed and Zee moved to her home state of Montana with their two daughters, Candace and Patricia; they settled in Great Falls. Ed felt that there was no better place to live! Born with a true gift of gab, Ed worked in sales for Montgomery Ward, American Life & Casualty Insurance, and the U.S. Tobacco company. In 1975 he realized a life-long dream and bought the Tracy Bar re-naming it the “E-Z Bar” after himself and Zita. Ten years later he sold the bar and truly retired.

“Big Ed” was one heck of a card and pool player. He was an avid golfer having played the game since his early days in the Navy. When health issues took him off the course, he could be found watching the game on TV. He also loved a cold beer, a smooth cigar and a good Western … and his favorite recliner. He was a life member of the VFW, the American Legion, and the Elks.

He is survived by his daughters, Candace and Patricia Loeffler; granddaughters, Bryce Weinert and Briana (David) Gerena; grandsons Alexander (Jessica) Drew and Zachary Drew, son-in-law Robert (Candace) Drew; sister Mildred Herman of Iowa; sisters-in-law Marian Golie, Edith Guza and Opal Guza; many nieces and nephews; and that guy in the basement, Michael. We will all miss our “sweet, lovable” Ed.

Ed was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 61 years, Zita; his older brother, Donald Loeffler, and most of his golf buddies.

Many thanks to the caring staff at Peace Hospice and to his home health nurses, Tawnya, Gale and Rebecca.

Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.schniderfuneralhome.com.

Published in Great Falls Tribune on Aug. 20, 2014

Obituary, John F. Popola

John F. Popola

AGE: 88 • Formerly of Sayreville

John F. Popola, age 88, formerly of Sayreville died Saturday, September 6 at the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home in Edison. Born in Newark, he resided most of his life in Sayreville, then Toms River and finally he moved to the Veterans Home about 5 years ago. John served in the Navy during World War II aboard the USS Franklin which was badly damaged by a Japanese air attack that resulted in a loss of 800 crewmen, becoming the most heavily damaged carrier to survive the war. John received the Purple Heart Medal for wounds received in the attack. John retired after 36 years with the South Amboy Post Office as the Assistant Post Master. After his retirement he also worked in the Mail Department of the Garden State Parkway. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, he was an avid bowler and he was a huge New York Yankees and Giants fan.

John was predeceased by a daughter, Frances Clark and a brother, Bob Popola. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Loretta (nee Flynn) Popola; a son and daughter-in-law, John and Kathleen Popola of North Hanover Twp.; a daughter and son-in-law, Joanne and Tony Cser of Amelia, VA; two brothers, Tom Popola of Florida and Pat Popola of California; a sister, Violet Bruno of Parlin; seven grandchildren, Alan John Ellison, Mary Fran Clark, Tammy Horner, Jaclyn Popola, Lindsey Popola, Steven Popola and Matthew Popola; seven great grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services for John will be held on Wednesday, September 10 at 12:00 Noon at the Tilghman Funeral Home, 52 Main Street, New Egypt, NJ 08533 (www.tilghmanfh.com), with burial to follow in the BGWCD Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Arneytown. Calling hours will be on Tuesday evening, September 9 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM and again on Wednesday morning from 10:00 AM until noon at the funeral home. Due to cemetery restrictions, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in John’s memory may be made to the Disabled American Veterans (www.dav.org/donate). – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/app/obituary.aspx?n=john-f-popola&pid=172386729&fhid=15170&eid=sp_ommatch#sthash.5BVzg1dR.dpuf

Published in Asbury Park Press & Home News Tribune on Sept. 8, 2014

Obituary, Joseph A. Filz

Joseph A. Filz, age 95 of Falls Township, PA, died on Monday, April 12, 2010, at Saint Mary Medical Center in Langhorne. Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Filz was a resident of Fairless Hills since 1975. Until his retirement in 1977 he was employed as a steamfitter for Local #420 for 40 years. Joe was a member of St. Frances Cabrini parish and was a member of the Knights of Columbus, St. Joseph the Worker Council #4215 and the St. John Neumann Assembly. Mr. Filz is the beloved husband of 70 years of the late Anna L. Filz. He is the loving father of Joseph A. Filz, Jr. and his wife, Jean, Barbara A. Krasnay and her husband, Bob, and Elizabeth Kurtz and her husband, Norman, all of Fairless Hills. He will also be sadly missed by 6 grandchildren, 7 great grandchildren, 1 great great grandchild and many nieces. Family and friends are invited to call on Thursday, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. and on Friday, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at St. Frances Cabrini Church, 325 S. Oxford Valley Rd., Fairless Hills, PA 19030. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Friday at 9:30 a.m. Rite of Committal will follow in Resurrection Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of the James J. Dougherty Funeral Home, Inc., Levittown. There will be no calling hours at the funeral home. Mass cards or memorial contributions to St. Frances Cabrini Church at the above address would be appreciated by the family.


Obituary, Charles Ray Graves

Charles Ray Graves, 88, a native of Printess, MS and a resident of Baton Rouge, LA passed away on Sunday, August 3, 2014 at his daughter’s home in Pride, LA. He was a U.S. Navy Veteran serving on the USS Franklin during WWII. He retired from the LA Highway Department in 1977, was a Shriner and an auctioneer since 1987. He joined the Masons in 1954 and continued his membership for 60 years. He was a Master Mason with the Istrouma Lodge #414. He is survived by his children: Charlene Cooksey and husband Butch, Gerald Graves and Pat Jones, Robert Graves, Tammy Lamana, and Todd Graves and wife Cindy; grandchildren and great grandchildren; siblings: Johnnie Morgan, Elsie Arnold, and Edwin Graves and wife Sylvia; and sister-in-law Nina Graves. He is preceded in death by his wife Dolores Graves; son Leslie Graves; parents Walter and Eula Graves; and brother Robert G. Graves. Visitation will be held at Greenoaks Funeral Home on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 from 10am until time of service at 12pm. Interment will immediately follow in Greenoaks Memorial Park.

Published in TheAdvocate.com from Aug. 4 to Aug. 6, 2014
– See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/theadvocate/obituary.aspx?n=charles-ray-graves&pid=171975509&fhid=11073&eid=sp_ommatch#sthash.5e1XABpp.dpuf

Obituary, George Kreider Bomberger

Retired Naval Commander

George K. Bomberger, 97, of Palmyra, PA, entered into his eternal rest on Monday, July 28, 2014, in Paxtonia at the home of his son and daughter-in-law, Bob and Mary, with whom he had lived for the past two years. The youngest of five children born to the late Harry and Fannie Mae (Kreider) Bomberger (along with four other siblings who did not live into childhood), George was born on Easter Sunday, April 8, 1917, in Lebanon, PA. Raised on a farm just outside of Lebanon, George had fond memories of that time in his life, intermingled with sadness at the death of his mother when he was 12. He and his three older brothers and sister attended a one room schoolhouse, Excelsior School, also known as Snitz Creek School.
His father remarried, to Margaret, and in time five half-brothers and a half-sister were added to George’s family. Many were the stories that George recounted through the years, especially late in his life, as he recalled life on the farm.
In addition to his parents, George was preceded in death by his three brothers, Herbert, Christian, and Robert and his sister, Hilda (Creager); stepmother Margaret, half-brother Donald, and half-sister Barbara; a daughter, Judy, at 6 days of age (1951); his wife Julia (Rutter) Bomberger (1970); second wife Anna (Blessing Wolfe) Bomberger (2009); and a daughter, Joan Yoder (2013).
He is survived by his immediate family: son Robert K. Bomberger and wife Mary, of Harrisburg; grandson Neil Bomberger and wife Anne Coleman, and their two sons George and Moses, of Arlington, MA; and granddaughter Chloe Bomberger, of Charlotte, NC.
Also surviving are his half-brothers Ralph, Harry, William, Eddie and their families; two sons of wife Anna, Kenny and Brian Wolfe and their families; Jim Yoder, husband of Joan; nieces/nephews and families of his brothers Herbert, Christian, and Robert and sister Hilda; and nieces Barbie, Betsy, and Mert and their families, through his wife Julia.
After graduating from Lebanon High School in 1934, George headed westward, following the lead of brother Herb and sister Hilda, and eventually started college in Las Cruzes, NM. Then just before the start of WWII he joined the Navy on May 15, 1941 in Long Beach, California.
George served in the Pacific as a Navy pilot flying off jeep carriers in the Solomon Islands in 1943, where he received the Air Medal Citation Award for “meritorious service in action” against the Japanese. In the summer and fall of 1944 he flew off the aircraft carrier USS Ben Franklin, going on numerous missions in the Bonin and Mariana Islands, Okinawa, Formosa, and the Philippines. In late October 1944 George was credited with a direct hit on a Japanese aircraft carrier, which subsequently sank, in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. For this he was awarded the Navy Cross, the highest Naval award outside of the Congressional Medal of Honor. The exploits of George and his fellow crew members of the USS Franklin are chronicled in Joseph Springer’s book “Inferno”, where the testimonies of George and other heroic men who served on that ship are recorded.
After coming home to Palmyra, George completed his B.S. degree at Lebanon Valley College in 1948 while continuing to serve in the U.S. Naval Reserves. During the Korean War, George was called up to active duty as a flight instructor in Pensacola, Florida.
Always inclined to be active and on the go, George enjoyed spending time with his family, mowing his grass and working in his yard, playing golf, attending family and Navy reunions, and sharing his later years with Anna. He enjoyed travelling and just driving about town, and he never missed an opportunity to go out for breakfast. He was a wonderful Papa to his two grandchildren and it was clearly evident even in his last years that he truly enjoyed children; little ones, great-grandchildren and others, always brought a smile to his face.
Funeral services will be held on Monday August 4, 2014 at 11:00AM from the Kreamer Funeral Home & Crematory 618 E. Main St. Annville, PA 17003. Interment with full military honors will be in the Indiantown Gap National Cemetery. Viewing will be held one hour prior to the service. A luncheon will follow the interment at the Trinity United Church of Christ, Palmyra.
George’s family particularly wishes to thank the Visiting Nurses Association (VNA) of Central PA for the wonderful care and support in helping them keep George in a home setting during his final years. The registered nurses, aides, and other staff of VNA, and most recently their Crossings Hospice program, have been invaluable and greatly appreciated. George’s family also wishes to thank Valerie Kaiser, of Specialty Home Care, for the many hours of assistance in caring for George, occupying his time with activities/games/ and friendship, and making his life more enjoyable.
Memorial contributions can be made to the VNA, Specialty Home Care, or the Trinity United Church of Christ in Palmyra.
Published in Patriot-News from July 30 to July 31, 2014
– See more at: http://obits.pennlive.com/obituaries/pennlive/obituary.aspx?n=george-kreider-bomberger&pid=171910120&fhid=4582#sthash.84V95yvS.dpuf

Obituary, Kenneth Eugene Peltier, Sr.

Kenneth Eugene Peltier, Sr. passed away Tuesday morning, July 15, 2014, at the Harrah Nursing Center. He was born January 6, 1923 in Shawnee, OK to Oliver A. and Ozetta Bourassaa Peltier. Kenneth was a very proud and humble person. He wrote his book, ‘MY DIARY OF MEMORIES’ for his family which tells many stories of special memories of his lifetime. He was very proud to obtain a copyright for this book. He attended Shawnee schools and Acme school first through 8th grade. After graduating from the 8th grade he attended Shawnee Junior and Senior high school. He participated in track and football. Ray LeCrone, his football coach, called him’ that Crazy Legged Indian! He took advantage of a NYA School to learn the welding trade at the beginning of WW2. The class met from 12 midnight until 4:00 AM. He attended the class before reporting for classes at the high school. Kaiser Shipyards needed certified welders to build ships for the US Navy. They found many certified welders to hire from the NYA schools from across the USA. Kenneth was certified and withdrew from Shawnee High School to go to California to work for Kaiser. While in California he was recruited by the Pacific Coast Professional Football League to play for the Oakland Giants. He was able to play for one year and received publicity as being the runt on the team. He wanted to serve in the Military but was told that his Draft status was 2-B Defense and could not be 1-A since he was needed more in defense than the Military. He quit his job with Kaiser, returned to Shawnee and entered the US Navy. He served on the Aircraft Carrier USS Franklin until it was hit by a Kamikaze plane. Many lives were lost and Kenneth was proud to have been one of the 704 crew members who brought the crippled ship from the coast of Japan back to the Brooklyn Shipyard. Kenneth was a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation •. He was elected to serve as Secretary of the Potawatomi Tribe during the 1980’s. He was happy to have been able to attend all the CPN Council meetings and CPN Festivals for over 40 years. He received his Indian name, Wegmanemo, which means First or Leader Wolf, during a CPN Naming Ceremony on November 30, 2008 from the CPN Tribal Chairman, John Barrett. He retired from Tinker AFB after 31 years of service in 1978 as a quality control inspector. Kenneth was a faithful member of the Star Sunday School Class at the First Christian Church for many years. He has attended the Dale Church of Christ the past few years. Kenneth married Pauline Stegall Peltier October 5, 1941 in Shawnee, OK. This union was blessed with four children Kenneth Eugene Peltier Jr, Nicki Lynn Peltier, Marsha Jane Peltier and Tanya May Peltier. Kenneth and Pauline were married for 46 wonderful years before her death in 1987. Kenneth married Lillian Hale February 9, 1990 at the Dale Church of Christ. They were happily married for over 24 years. He was preceded in death by his parents, Oliver and Ozetta Peltier, two sons Kenneth Eugene Peltier and Nicki Lynn Peltier. Five sisters Mildred, Ruby, Kathleen. Annetta, and Willa Lou, Three brothers Buddy, Gerald and Raymond and many other family members and friends. He is survived by his wife Lillian Peltier, daughters, Marsha (Bill) Sims, Tanya Peltier, four stepsons: John (Cathy) Hale, Rick (Cindy) Hale, Rusty (Lana) Hale and Rob (Karen) Hale. He is survived by many grandchildren: Reuben, Kanton, Kim, Billy, Vicki, Nicki, Tina, Bradley, Jeremy, Jennifer, Lindsay, Stephanie, Jeff, Jonathan, Joe, Courtney, Tacy, Jack, Kelli, Matt and many loved great-grandchildren. Funeral Services will be 10 a.m. Friday, July 16th at Walker Funeral Service, 201 E. 45th St., Shawnee, OK. Visitation will be all day Thursday. Bill Sims, Bible Teacher from the Meeker Church of Christ will officiate. Burial will be at the Tecumseh Cemetery with Rocky Barrett officiating. The CPN Veterans will be in charge of the Military service. The family would like to express a special thank you to the staff of the Harrah Nursing Center for their loving and professional care of Kenneth the past year.


Rear Admiral Mark L. Tidd, Chief of Navy Chaplains remarks for USS Franklin 70th reunion. Delivered July 19, 2014 at the USS Franklin Reunion.

140718-IG780-N-035 NORFOLK, Va. (July 18, 2014) - Rear Adm. Mark L. Tidd, Chief of Navy Chaplains, speaks at the Franklin Society's dinner and dance as part of the group's annual reunion. The annual meeting of the Franklin Society honors the men who served aboard aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV 13) during World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

NORFOLK, Va. (July 18, 2014) – Rear Adm. Mark L. Tidd, Chief of Navy Chaplains, speaks at the Franklin Society’s dinner and dance as part of the group’s annual reunion. The annual meeting of the Franklin Society honors the men who served aboard aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV 13) during World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

Honoring the Legacy of the Franklin and her Crew 70 years Later

Good evening, Shipmates, Marines and family members. I am deeply honored to be with you at the 70th anniversary of the commissioning of the great aircraft carrier USS Franklin, affectionately nicknamed “Big Ben” a ship whose story is well known to our Nation and our Navy and is interwoven into the history of the Navy Chaplain Corps.

Each year, for the past 70 years you’ve gathered to honor service to our Nation- your own service and that of your loved ones and comrades at such a critical time during World War II. But in particular, you’ve gathered as a crew and family to reflect on the courageous actions taken before daybreak, March 19, 1945, in the waters of Kobe Harbor.

It was a harrowing day where more than 800 lives were lost and nearly 300 wounded, and yet many survived as they fought to save each other and to save Big Ben herself.

There is something powerful behind this ritual of coming together for fellowship and camaraderie, to remember and reflect, to share stories (some of which may be true!) and ultimately to show support to your Shipmates these many years later. Just as you did yesterday during a Memorial Service held aboard the USS Wisconsin. This gathering together is a profound testament to the power of our relationships. Relationships that bring joy and meaning to our lives, but also sustainment in the years following the wrenching experience of combat. For it is these very bonds which bring healing, healing to the body and the mind and finally the heart.

These bonds of Shipmates, forged in harm’s way, are inevitably deepened by the magnitude and intensity of combat experience. Those inseparable bonds have endured time and distance. They are strengthened by your shared devotion to your country, to your ship and to your Shipmates.

This tradition of gathering together also speaks to the personal connection we feel to our ship, our home. It’s almost part of our identity as Sailors- it’s in our DNA. And what a rich and historic legacy of service Big Ben has having served in several campaigns in the Pacific, earning four battle stars with her 3,500 crewmen and 100 aircraft.

So I am pleased to see with us tonight, multiple generations of family members who continue to honor their own family members’ legacy of service during such a critical time in our history.

Among the crew members of FRANKLIN were the ship’s two chaplains, Chaplain Joseph T. O’Callahan, known as “Father Joe” and Chaplain Grimes W. Gatlin, the Protestant chaplain. Both of them held services on the hangar deck the day before the attack, and they were preparing for a burial at sea that morning.

Chaplain O’Callahan and Chaplain Gatlin were spiritual leaders trusted by their people. They’d always been engaged in the lives and welfare of the crew. In their own ways, they brought a message of hope and most importantly, they brought the presence of God—a presence desperately needed on the terrible morning of March 19.
In the course of the attack, the ship was engulfed in flames fed by the five bombers, 14 torpedo bombers and 12 fighters on the flight and hangar decks that were carrying 36,000 gallons of gas and 30 tons of bombs and rockets between them.
Throughout the chaos, the crew remained calm and never gave up the ship. Chaplain O’Callahan manned a fire hose and organized fire fighters to lay water on the bombs so they would not explode. He worked with crew members throwing hot ammunition overboard to prevent a potentially fatal explosion. He sought to comfort the wounded and to administer last rights to the dying, while Chaplain Gatlin ministered to those badly burned in the attacks.
One of those Sailors to whom Father Joe O’Callahan gave last rites was Robert C. Blanchard who had been overcome by smoke inhalation. Many of you know well the iconic WWII photograph of Father Joe bending over Robert. What was not publicly known until recently was the fact that Robert went on to live to be 90 and passed away this past April.
FRANKLIN’S CO, Captain Leslie E. Gehres, said this about Chaplain O’Callahan’s actions to save the ship and care for the crew: “His courage was sustained, tested by time, enduring, faithful to the end.” These words applied to countless others present that morning.
While sustaining catastrophic damage, heroic damage control measures saved the ship. Thanks to that courageous and incredibly resilient spirit, you were able to save Big Ben. As you well know, no ship in history had ever suffered such losses and remained afloat.
As the Plan of the Day for March 21st put it so well after the attack and recovery efforts: “Big Ben Bombed, Battered, Bruised and Bent But Not Broken.” Those words reflect the valor and tenacity demonstrated that fateful day, and it speaks to your generation of Sailors and Marines who answered the call to serve our great Nation. That’s something for which all family members present tonight have reason to be justifiably proud.
This tenacious and resilient spirit carried you not only through the attack, but also through the 5-week, 12,000 mile cruise back home to New York Harbor. Once safely docked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, 234 men received Letters of Commendation, nearly 300 of the wounded crew members were presented with Purple Hearts. 115 men were recipients of the Bronze Star. Chaplain Grimes W. Gatlin was among 22 of Franklin’s men to be awarded the Silver Star.
The Navy Cross went to 19 of Franklin’s men, including the captain.

For actions above and beyond the call of duty that day, Lt.j.g. Donald A. Gary was awareded the Congressional Medal of Honor, as as Chaplain Joseph O’Callahan, the 1st military chaplain to receive that award. He remains one of only two Navy chaplains to receive this award.

On that fateful day, more than 800 of your fellow Sailors and Marines gave their lives and nearly 300 were wounded from the attack, together accounting for 1/3 of your Shipmates.
In the Christian scriptures, John 15:13 reminds us that “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” his Shipmates.
Thank you for your invitation to join you here tonight as you gather to reflect on your service to our Nation, to our Navy, and to each other aboard the Franklin and to honor the tremendous sacrifices and legacy of your fellow crew members who perished that fateful day.
Regardless of the paths your lives have taken through the years since that day, you can always stand proud of your service to your ship and to your Shipmates.
May God continue to bless you and your families.