American Legion Spotlight

franks-01Lonnie Franks

Branch: U.S. Army, July 31, 1973 – July 26, 1976

Places Served:
Eight weeks Combat Basic Training at Ft. Knox, Ky., training in basic combat, weaponry, survival skills, military structures and disciplines.

Four weeks AIT (Advanced Individual Training) in transportation at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. Training in operation of transportation equipment and handling of fuels and ammunitions.
Ft. Carson, Colo., 15 months, transportation of supplies, personnel, fuel and ammunition.
Ferris Barracks, Erlangen, Germany, HHC, 2nd Battalion, 81st Armor Division, 18 months. Transportation of supplies, fuel and ammunition. Platoon Sergeant – trainer and instructor on new equipment.

franks-02Medals and honors:
National Defense Service Medal, M16 Marksman, Community service letters of appreciation.

Memories of Service:
“Being just out of high school and looking for adventure and the opportunity to serve my country, I volunteered for a six-year (three active, three inactive) tour with the U.S. Army,” Franks said. “Not only did I get the adventure I was looking for, but also much needed structure and discipline that helped me in my life to follow.” Franks added that he was able to see some faraway places, experience different cultures and made many new friends, some of whom he remains in contact with today.

After Serving:
Prior to entering the military, Franks had a career focused in the machining industry. He worked with a small team while still in high school to start up a new machine shop out of Detroit called “Ex-Cell-O New Mac Div.” He joined the army with the company’s consent and, upon his return, “I was reinstated for my job. And not only did I hold top seniority with more than a hundred or so employees under me, but a nice raise compared to what I was earning when I left.”

In 1978, the company pulled the division back into Detroit for consolidation and Franks left the company to stay in the area, taking a job machining aircraft systems at Walerko Tool and Engineering in Elkhart.

He started his own machine shop in 1991, Crystal Valley Machine and Engineering, serving the orthopedic industry. He sold the business and retired in 2013.

He met his wife, Terina, through a mutual friend and they have two sons, Dustin and Cody, and two grandchildren, all of whom live in Middlebury.

Franks is a 15-year member of Middlebury American Legion Post 210 and recently joined the American Legion Riders. He is also a life member of the Riders Motorcycle Club out of Ligonier.

Franks and his wife enjoy traveling the U.S. and abroad for pleasure as well as mission trips. They attend the First United Methodist Church of Middlebury and “I owe my life to Christ,” Franks said.