Originally Published: November 10, 2015 7:17 p.m.
City of Residence: Chino Valley
Branch of Service: U.S. Air Force
Dates of Service: July 1955-December 1975
Rank: Tech. Sgt.
My name is Franklin, aka Frank, Clark, born in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, in 1937. I began my military career on July 25, 1955, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, at the age of 17. My mother was required to sign my paperwork to allow me to join the U.S. Air Force even though I was underage by less than a month and would be 18 on Aug. 19. After taking the physical, aptitude test and everything else that was required, I was inducted into the U.S. Air Force at Middletown, Pennsylvania. I was put on a train with a coal-fired locomotive and shipped overnight to somewhere in upstate New York. I believe we arrived in Geneva, New York, and were bused to Sampson Air Force Base, New York, for the beginning of a 13-week basic training course. After basic training, I went to Nuclear Weapons Maintenance Technical School in Denver.
My duties were vast but basically I was charged with the maintenance of the nuclear weapons stockpiled by the U.S. Air Force.
Most of my assignments were in the Strategic Air Command (SAC) and United States Air Forces Europe (USAFE).
One day as my crew was preparing a weapon for loading onto a B47 at the base in Morocco, General Curtis LeMay unexpectedly walked up to the area smoking his usual cigar. Our work areas were always "No Smoking" areas and the security guard informed the general that he shouldn't be smoking in the area because the bomb may explode. General LeMay replied bluntly, "It wouldn't dare!"
Decorations: National Defense Medal, USAF Commendation Medal, USAF Outstanding Unit Award w/1 OLC, USA Good Conduct Medal, USAF Good Conduct Medal 2 Br LPS, 1 OLC, USAF Small Arms Marksmanship Ribbon w/1 OLC, Master Missileman Badge, Senior Missileman Badge
Memberships: Sampson AFB Veterans Association; Nuclear Weapons Technicians Association; Yavapai County Veterans Association
I retired from the USAF on Dec. 31, 1975, at the rank of technical sergeant. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in the U.S. Air Force, it was a great career.
I have always felt that ALL young men should enlist in a branch of service of their choice for at least one tour of duty. It would be an education and experience you will never forget.
After I retired from the military, I moved to Phoenix, where I attempted to find decent work. My first job was with Radio Shack in Peoria. After several different other jobs, I eventually was able to get on at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station and worked until the units went online. I met my lovely, second wife while at the power plant. Then, after a brief period of unemployment, I landed a job at Courtesy Chevrolet and retired as an RV warranty manager in Mesa, Arizona.
My wife and I moved from east Mesa to Overgaard. We lived there for several years, bought a motorhome and traveled around the country for several years and finally fell in love with and settled down in the little town of Chino Valley.