Joseph P. Franklin was born in 1933 in Cumberland, Maryland. Franklin won a competitive appointment to the US Military Academy in 1951 and graduated in 1955 with a commission in the US Army Corps of Engineers.
After preliminary military schooling, which included Parachute and Ranger qualification, Franklin was assigned to Karlsruhe, Germany, and served with combat engineer units until 1959. He was then sent to MIT to earn master’s degrees in civil engineering and nuclear engineering, and in 1961 was assigned to the Army’s Nuclear Power Program, headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where he worked as project manager to install a nuclear power plant on board a converted Liberty ship. In 1963, he was assigned to the command of Camp Century, a nuclear-powered research outpost on the Greenland ice cap. He directed the shutdown and disassembly of the nuclear power plant, shipping the entire facility back to the US in 1964.
Selected for instructor duty at West Point in 1965, Franklin taught the first nuclear engineering course and coached the football and ski teams during his three years as a professor. After a year’s further study at the Naval War College, he shipped out to Vietnam to command a combat engineer battalion in the Central Highlands, ending his tour after participating in the 1970 invasion of Cambodia. The decade of the seventies was taken up with Pentagon duty, including a tour as executive assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, plus a brigade command at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and another year of study at the Army War College.
Promoted to brigadier general in 1979, Franklin was selected to be commandant of cadets at West Point where he served until 1982. A tour of duty as assistant commander of the Twenty-fifth Infantry Division in Hawaii was followed by promotion to major general and assignment in 1983 as chief of the Joint US Military Group and senior US defense representative in Spain.
Franklin chose to retire in 1987 and remained in Spain, founding Franklin, S.A., a Spanish business consultancy located in Madrid, specializing in investments and joint ventures. He was elected to the board of directors of several Spanish and American companies, one of which was Frequency Electronics at Mitchel Field, New York. He returned to the US in 1993, when he was elected chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Frequency Electronics. He continues to serve as chairman of the board today, leaving the CEO position in 1999.
In 1996, Franklin became chairman of the board of advisors of The West Point Project, LLC – a group of private investors joined together to promote the US Military Academy in cooperation with its Association of Graduates during West Point’s bicentennial year. His work included the publication in 2002 of the bicentennial book: West Point: Two Centuries of Honor and Tradition. He also served as vice chairman of the board of trustees of the Association of Graduates.
In 2007, Franklin received West Point’s Distinguished Graduate award, noting his outstanding career and fine example of the Academy’s Duty, Honor, Country motto. He is presently on the board of directors of RKO Pictures, Inc., and is a former trustee of the McDonogh School in Baltimore, Maryland. He is married to Constance Marie Smith, also from Cumberland, Maryland. They have four sons and eight grandchildren.
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