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General Tommy Franks - Biography

General Tommy Franks (ret.)
General Tommy Franks (ret.)
Honorary Co-Chair

Tommy Franks was born in Wynnewood (pronounced “Winnywood”) Oklahoma and grew up in Midland, Texas where he graduated from Robert E. Lee High School one year ahead of First Lady Laura Bush. After two years at the University of Texas, he joined the United States Army and in 1967, as a distinguished graduate of the Artillery Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and sent to Viet Nam.

His service in Viet Nam earned him six awards for Valor and three Purple Hearts. That assignment was the start of a long and distinguished career that would take him for one world hot spot to another – from West Germany at the height of the Cold War to the Demilitarized Zone in Korea, to the deserts of Arabia—where he gained the knowledge and experience that would prepare him for the leadership role that would mark his place in the annals of American History.

Along the way, General Franks attended the University of Texas, Arlington, where he graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration, and Shippensburg University where he graduated with a Masters Degree in Public Administration. He is also a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and the Army War College.

In June 2000, he was promoted to four-star General and assigned as Commander-in-Chief, United States Central Command. It’s in this position that the world knows Tommy Franks best – the culmination of an almost four-decade military career that saw him lead American and Coalition troops in two strategically unprecedented campaigns in two years – Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.

The General’s awards include five Distinguished Service Medals, four Legions of Merit, four Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts in addition to numerous foreign awards. He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) by order of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on May 25, 2004. And President George W. Bush awarded him the Nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom on December 14, 2004.

General Franks has received honorary degrees from a number of Universities including his alma mater, Shippensburg University and his wife’s alma mater, Oklahoma State University.

Since his retirement from the military in 2003, General Franks has traveled the world speaking on leadership, character and the value of Democracy. His autobiography, American Soldier debuted as Number #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list in August 2004.

The General serves on the Board of Directors of the Bank of America and Outback Steakhouse, Inc. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the National Park Foundation and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Foundation. He is an advisor to the Central Command Memorial Foundation and the Military Child Education Coalition, and is a spokesman for the Southeastern Guide Dogs Organization.

General Franks and his wife, Cathryn Carley Franks, have one daughter who is married to a military officer and three grandchildren. The Franks divide their time between their home in Tampa, Florida and their ranch in Roosevelt, Oklahoma.

President George W. Bush calls Franks, “a down to earth, no-nonsense guy.” His troops call him, “a soldier’s General,” and his associates call him, “an astute businessman.” His grandkids call him, “Pooh.”