THE RARE BREED |
Recognizing Area Veterans Of World War II
John Frankson Flew 87 Missions Over The 'Hump'
JOHN E. FRANKSON
John E. Frankson's World War II career in the Army Air Force took him from the flatlands of the Palacios area to the high skies over the Himalayas, site of nine of the 10 highest mountain peaks in the world.
Born July 24, 1922 to Lloyd and Leta Frankson in the Carancahua Community, John will be 80 years young two weeks from today. He was a 19-year-old working at the Phoenix Dairy in Palacios when Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941.
The following April, in 1942, he was inducted into the Army Air Force at San Antonio as a private.
Frankson spent some training time at Greenville, Texas and earned his wings at the old Aloe airfield in Victoria. From there, it was to Milwaukee, then to Atlanta, Ga., where he flew co-pilot on cargo planes, then started ferrying such aircraft as the B-24 bomber out of Love Field, Dallas.
After a stint of flying the C-46 transport aircraft at Reno, Nevada, it was time to go overseas--assigned to the China-Burma-India campaign. The "home" air base was in India, built in the middle of a tea plantation.
Lt. John E. Frankson received the Distinguished Flying Cross in November of 1944.
He was also awarded three Air Medals.
Flying out the India airfield, he made 87 flights, piloting the C-46 over the notoriously dangerous "Hump" of the Himalayas Mountains into China and return.
"Those were pretty high mountains," Frankson says. "Our minimum flying altitude was 16,000 feet.
"We lost 100 planes, mostly due to the weather. The winds were terrible. We lost four planes from my group, crews from two of the planes made it back."
Frankson recalls one night when he was returning from China.
"It was very clear and I was flying at about 17,000 altitude," he said. "All of a sudden I saw this huge white cloud and wondered why it was there on such a clear night. At the last moment, I decided to fly around the cloud. In doing so, I discovered the cloud was actually the top of a mountain covered with snow. If I hadn't decided to fly around the cloud I would have flown right into that mountain."
After nearly four years in the Army Air Force, Frankson received his discharge at San Antonio in March of 1946 with the rank of First Lieutenant. For his service in the India-Burma-China Theater, Frankson earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals.
Returning home, he was in the oilfield business for 12 years, then went into farming. Today, he lives on County Road 474.
CADETS and officers of the First Training Squadron, Flight B, Class 43F, assembled for group picture at Greenville, Texas. Cadet John Frankson is third from left in front row.
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