Army Sergeant Michael T. Franklin was born in Newport, RI. He was assigned to 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Ft. Hood, TX. On September 27, 2010, Michael, a two-tour veteran of the Iraq War and diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder died under tragic circumstances in his home in Fort Hood, Texas.
Michael T. Franklin was a 1998 graduate of Rogers High School and a 2003 graduate of Salve Regina University, where he earned a bachelor of science in elementary education. He played Middletown Pop Warner Football, played for the Rogers High School Football team, and was also a cheerleader for Rogers High.
At Salve Regina, Franklin was a football player and standout athlete. He also served as an orientation leader for the freshmen. In 2003, he graduated with honors and had aspirations of being a teacher. He substitute taught in the Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth school systems and worked at the Boys and Girls Club. While in college, he met his wife, Jessie, and they were married in 2005.
When Michael couldn’t find a full-time teaching job, he joined the Army in August 2005 as a motor transport operator and was assigned to Fort Hood two months later to the 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. Franklin served two tours in Iraq, most recently returning in January 2010, and earned a number of commendations and medals. His deployments involved in convoy logistics patrols and provided security for convoys that supplied smaller bases and outposts in Iraq. The unit was constantly under the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDS) and ambush by insurgents and snipers armed with rocket propelled grenades (RPGS) and small arms weapons.
“I was so happy when Michael and most of his unit returned safely from Iraq. He was due to leave the Army just before Christmas of 2008 but the military “stop-gapped” (extended military service for the good of the U.S. Army) him and he had to stay on active duty. His unit was deployed back to Iraq in February of 2009, and he followed orders because he was a good soldier,” said Beverly Franklin said.
A fellow soldier who served with him recalled that he was a good friend and fellow team leader during that tour of duty. He states, “Mike and I were good friends for over two years, beginning in 2008. My wife and I spent time with Mike and Jessie and they were a fun, loving couple to be around. During our deployment together in Iraq we led convoy logistics patrols. We performed somewhere between 150-200 patrols. We were hit a number of times by IEDs and RPGs. Mike was our best guy, our rock; we all leaned on him. He never stressed out in combat and we knew we could trust him. He was the NCO (noncommissioned officer) that everyone went to for help and guidance. Even the senior NCOs came to him for his opinions and thoughts on our work. Mike led by example and he expected his soldiers to do the same.”
His mother remembers that she was deeply relieved when her son came home, but in April of 2010 there was an incident that made her question her son’s mental stability. Michael called his friends and family in Newport to say good-bye and she knew he was in crisis and was going to commit suicide. She called her local minister who notified the Ft. Hood chaplain, who in turn notified Mike’s unit and the police. The unit commander sent Mike to counseling in an effort to find a reason for his depression. His wife joined him at the counseling sessions and told the counselor that Michael had changed stating that he was startled and alarmed by loud noises and he always had to have his back against the wall so that no one could sneak up on him. He was having nightmares and night terrors and had become distant, but still showed love for her and their children. In August of 2010, however, Michael was diagnosed with PTSD.