Joseph P. Franklin

West Point Class of 1955, Army Football & Golf Teams, Commandant of Cadets 1979 – 1982.

*Please note – Gerry Lodge – who wore (we think) both #67 and #32 is missing from Photo. 2d man 2d row next to Tommy Bell – Name is Zaborowski. Wynn #31 is actually in the 2d row not the 3d

The Cadets who played against Duke.

“Freddie Attaya” ’54 – FB & Punter; Tommy Bell ’55 – LHB; Ralph Chesnauskas ’56 – RG (played the entire game – 60 minutes, kicked the 2 extra points); Cockrell – LHB; Bob Farris ’56 – RT, “Howard Glock” ’56 – LT, “Jerry Hagan” ’55 – QB, Don Holleder ’56 – RE; Krause – RT; Lapchick – LE; Lasley – C; “Gerry Lodge” ’54 – FB, RHB; Def G & LB, “Leroy Lunn” – LG; Ordway- LE; Melnick – LT; Bob Mischak ’54 – LE, Lowell Sisson ’54 – RE, “Norm Stephen” ’54 – C, Pat Uebel ’56 – LHB, Peter Vann ’56 – QB, “Mike Zeigler” ’54 – RHB, “Dick Ziegler” ’54 – LG, ” Joe Franklin” ’55 – RG (Tore up right knee when doubled teamed by Ralph Torrance & Eddie Meadows in 2d Quarter – Out for the Season)

In the 1953 Duke Game Joe tore up right knee when doubled teamed by Ralph Torrance & Duke’s All American Eddie Meadows in 2d Quarter. He was out for the Season. He returned for the 54 season playing against Duke at Duke. He lettered in Football & Golf — perhaps the only Army Guard to ever letter in Golf.

Col Blaik rotated the pulling guards (Vince Lombardi said he learned it with us), so Joe played both right and left guard along with Chester, “LeRoy Lunn”, and “Dick Ziegler”. In ’54 “Flay Goodwin” and “Joe Bishop” took Lunn and Ziegler’s place. Joe played all 60 minutes in the ’54 Duke game, which Army won pretty handily at Duke. The Team flew down around Hurricane Hazel which devastated the North Carolina Coast, wiping out nearly all of Oak Island.

Joe was asked about Rotating Pulling Guards

“Pulling Guards were a staple of that period in Col. Blaik’s era. “Vince Lombardi” was one of his most ardent disciples, having been one of the Seven Blocks of Granite at Fordham in the thirties. We all saw this later in the play of his offense at Green Bay. Curiously, Vince was the backfield coach, and was famous among the backs for his “slave-driving” training regimens. Every now and then, he would take over the linemen’s drills if one of our coaches was detailed to scout elsewhere. We all thought Vince was a fun, easy-going guy because he couldn’t resist jumping into our drills, smacking us around without pads and enjoying every second.”

Deliriously happy Army players and cadets celebrate their stunning 14-13 upset of Duke University Blue Devils at the Polo Grounds in New York City’s Polo Grounds, 17 October 1953. Identified players are Lowell Sisson (83), right end; Bob Mischak (87), left end; Bill Cody (11), quarterback; Ed Zaborowski (58), center; Joe Franklin (facing Ed Zaborowski; Frank Burd (33),fullback; Peter Vann (10), quarterback.

(Photo courtesy of Associated Press.)

Col Blaik was opposed to the limited substitution that the NCAA imposed during the early fifties: two subs per quarter, plus injuries, was it. He devised a system of “team substitution” by quarter, which meant 11 of us would rotate by quarter, each of us playing half the game. But this couldn’t hold up because, obviously, we didn’t have enough talent to field two competitive teams, rotating by quarters. I do recall Col Blaik saying that this was his way of telling the NCAA that their rules should allow as many men to play as possible. He believed (correctly, in my view) that the great benefit of the college game was to give as many of us as possible the chance to play at that level. Because the guards were pulling on almost every play, we were among the few who were substituted during a quarter. If one of us was hurt, we knew the assignments for both left and right guard, so there was rotation as well as substitution among the four of us who were listed on the depth charts as guards.”


Col Blaik was an avid golfer, as wasVince Lombardi. After Spring Practice, they were often out the 10-hole layout that was the WP Golf Course in the 50’s. Carney Laslie, a wonderful southern gentleman who went on to coach at Alabama, was their third. I was on the golf team, so once in awhile they would pull me in as their fourth. Vince was an excellent golfer, but his deference to Col Blaik seemed to me to border sometimes on obsequious. A round of golf with that foursome included alot of Vince’s “Good shot, Colonel” and “Great putt, Colonel.” Col Blaik did not react to blandishments, but he made it very enjoyable to play golf with him. Doc Blanchard was also an assistant coach during those years, and playing golf with him was always alot of fun for us. He was not always accurate (understatement) but could hit it darn near over Storm King Mountain.”

On Coaches and Hiring

Joe was asked about the hiring of Coaches

“Paul Dietzel(1963-1965) invited me to be an assistant coach when I arrived at West Point in 1965 to teach nuclear engineering. I expected he would accomplish great things; he was an Assistant Coach under Col Blaik when I was playing and all of us thought very highly of him. He quit after I had been there one year, the 1965 season. (Very odd circumstances, never really understood why.) Tom Cahill took over, (again, some interesting sidelights in that selection) had a good couple of years with Dietzel’s recruits, followed by what Cahill predicted would be tough times. (Tom was a fine human being and became a good friend; there is alot more to his story.)

As fate would have it, I was picked to be the Comm in 1979 (by Andrew J. Goodpastuer – Superintendent) right after the late ’70’s cheating scandal; I was a plebe when the ’51 scandal hit. When “Homer Smith” left in 1978 we hired Saban, who also quit after 1 year, and Cavanaugh took over; much the same as Cahill did after Dietzel. In the latter two cases, the hiring process was truncated for reasons best to be discussed another day.” (Editor’s Note -some of the above is discussed in detail in the “Building Leaders The American Way” by Joseph P. Franklin – All Proceeds go to West Point)

Joe was asked if he could say more about his experience with West Point’s football coaches and provided the following:

Here’s some expanded notes on my earlier description of coaches who were at West Point when I was teaching nuclear engineering and coaching football (1965-68), and later when I was Commandant (1979-1982). This responds to your request for “history,” but as the sands of time are running away from us now, please understand that if my recollection of dates, etc., are off a year or two here and there, it’s not intentional

As you know, I lettered in football and golf and graduated in 1955. During the next ten years I trained at Forts Belvoir and Benning, served three years with troops in Germany, earned masters’ degrees at MIT in Civil Engineering and Nuclear Engineering, managed the design and construction of the Army’s first (and only) floating nuclear power plant, spent a year shutting down and disassembling a nuclear reactor at Camp Century on the Greenland ice cap, and finally was assigned to USMA to teach Nuclear Engineering in the Department of Military Art and Engineering (MA&E) in June, 1965 with the rank of Major, Corps of Engineers.

Paul Dietzel was Army’s head coach, and I had played for him in ’53-’54 when he was one of Coach Blaik’s top assistants. I recall that all of us on those teams thought Paul would be a great head coach if Col. Blaik ever retired. Paul contacted me as soon as I got back to USMA to invite me to be an assistant coach. He put me with the Plebe Team, so I was coaching under Tom Cahill. Our plebe team was undefeated that year, with some of the top talent that Army had recruited in several years: Gary Steele, Steve Lindell, Charlie Jarvis, and many other great athletes who were also great young men. All of us were very optimistic for Paul, expecting him to accomplish great things as he had at LSU before he returned to Army. But he walked away after that season. To this day I don’t know why he quit; I’ll simply have to say it was above my pay grade at the time.

The Academy leadership was caught off guard, and thus was late in starting a search for a new coach. By the time spring practice rolled around we were still without a head coach, so of necessity the plebe staff ran spring practice with Tom Cahill in charge. Bobby Dobbs, who was then head coach at either TCU or Texas Tech (as I recall), was one candidate who came to visit. He had also been an assistant when I was playing and had encouraged and helped me to make a come-back after I was injured in ’53. But the search process was just not efficient enough, so by the time he (and several others) were contacted, it was too late; all of the potential top candidates had already been signed for the next season.

The locker room for the coaches was on the second floor across from the entrance to the old central gym (where the annual obstacle course was run.) My locker was next to Tom Cahill’s, and after every practice Tom would sit on the bench in front of his locker and smoke a cigarette.

Coach Tom Cahill – Elevated from Plebe Coach in 1966 – guides Army to an 8-2 Record (previous 2 years were losing seasons) earning “National Coach of the Year” honors. Coach Cahill is replaced in 1974 after 5 wining seasons and 3 losing seasons.

As the coaching search dragged on, he said to me one day after practice: “You know, Joe, they’re going to ask me to be the head coach and I’ll have to take the job, and I know I’ll get fired. All I really want to do is coach the plebes, stay here to watch Tad graduate, and retire around here with Bonnie.” (Bonnie was Tom’s wife and Tad was his son, who later played wide receiver for Army.) After he was named head coach, Cahill, by enormous strokes of good luck, was able to find and hire several outstanding assistant coaches, including Bobby Ward, Bill Meek, and several other very talented and experienced men to fill out his staff. In sum, Tom Cahill initially had a coaching staff that was top quality and very adept at using the talent Army could field.

The net result was that Army had a great season and Tom Cahill was named Coach of the Year after his first season as head coach. Success came from a combination of the fine coaching staff he had hired and the talented recruits he had helped bring in under Dietzel. But as Cahill himself had predicted, he was not able to sustain this success, and he and Bonnie eventually had to leave West Point after a disastrous losing season in 1973. I also have to believe that the trauma of failing and departing his beloved West Point was one of the factors that contributed to Tom Cahill’s early death.

Tom Cahill was a fine human being who knew who he was and had not one pretentious bone in his body. What follows is just one example of the quality of this good man. We had an outstanding player on the ’65 plebe team who would clearly have been a great talent when he moved up to varsity. (Freshmen could not play on the varsity in those years.) But soon after the spring practice that preceded his first year as head coach, Tom told me he had ordered that young man to resign from West Point for personal reasons. (Details omitted.) To me, that spoke volumes about the integrity of Tom Cahill. And so it was, to me, a really tragic loss for all of us when a few years later Tom Cahill resigned after what he himself had predicted would be an unsuccessful time as head coach.

Years later and alot of water under the bridge, General Andrew Goodpaster selected me to be the Commandant in the aftermath of the ”77 cheating scandal. (It was perhaps coincidental, perhaps not, that I had been a plebe when the ’51 scandal hit; I wrote about this in my book, “Building Leaders the West Point Way.”.) And just as it was in 1965 after I joined the coaching staff, Army was again searching for a new head coach. Very suddenly, “Lou Saban”, who had gained fame as a winning coach in the pro ranks, was hired. It turned out that MG (Ret.) Ray Murphy (USA, Ret.) who was Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, had met Saban by happenstance on a commercial airline flight. Gen. Murphy told me he offered Saban the job right then and he took it. “Lou Saban” knew football and how to use the talent of his teams to win, but he quit after one season (’79) and left us again looking for a new a head coach. I was directly involved in and supported the decision to hire Saban’s assistant, “Eddie Cavanaugh”, because he had recruited many of the players and was well-liked by all. His relationship with the team was a very strong factor in his favor. So Cavanaugh took over, but in the cold clarity of hindsight, he was not, in the final analysis, the right man for the job. If there is blame to be shared for his selection, I certainly accept it.

Army did not have any great winning seasons during my three years as Comm (’79-’82.). I regret that, of course, but not everyone who sits in the leadership at the Academy will enjoy the benefits of winning football seasons. It could certainly be argued that I had my share when I was actually playing, and later coaching, on the fields of friendly strife.

Last thought: To represent West Point on our football team was an experience to be treasured for a lifetime. Then to carry a great part of the responsibility for educating, training, and inspiring the Corps of Cadets was a privilege far beyond any I could ever have asked for.

God bless our soldiers and Go Army!

With warm regards, Joe Franklin

Commandant of the United States Corps of Cadets 1979 – 1982

Joseph P. Franklin’s selection as a 2007 West Point Distinguished Graduate

Throughout his life of service as a distinguished Army officer, scholar, diplomat, business leader, and Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the West Point Association of Graduates, Joseph P. Franklin has continuously and conspicuously dedicated himself to the principles of Duty, Honor, Country.

After graduating from West Point in June 1955, General Franklin was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers and completed the Engineer Officer Basic Course, Airborne School, and Ranger School. He then reported to the 78th Combat Engineer Battalion in Germany, where he served as a platoon leader and a company commander until 1959. In 1959, he was selected to attend MIT, where he earned Master’s Degrees in both Civil and Nuclear Engineering.

Following graduate school, General Franklin was assigned to the Army’s Nuclear Power Field Office as part of the Army Nuclear Power Program. In this assignment, his initial role was project manager for the design of the world’s first floating nuclear power plant. His second task was to lead a team of specialists to dismantle a portable nuclear power plant located on the Greenland icecap, and to salvage and return its highly radioactive components to the United States. General Franklin accomplished both of these unique and incredibly complex missions to perfection.

Following completion of the Engineer Officer’s Advanced Course, General Franklin was assigned as an instructor in the Department of Military Art and Engineering at the Military Academy. He took charge of the Nuclear Engineering course, and wrote a new full year curriculum in nuclear engineering for First Class Cadets. His accomplishment with this course remained essentially unchanged for 40 years, until 2005, when it was expanded to become a Major Course of Study.

After his assignment at West Point, General Franklin completed a year of study at the School of Naval Command and Staff at the Naval War College. In 1969, he was selected to command the 299th Combat Engineer Battalion, conducting combat operations in Vietnam and Cambodia. For his superb leadership of this battalion in combat, he was awarded the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal.

General Franklin’s follow-on assignment from Vietnam was to the Office of Plans and Policy, the J-5 of the Joint Staff. There he used his nuclear training and field experience to write the study that was the basis for recasting the United States’ nuclear weapons arsenal under the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT). While in that assignment, General Franklin was selected for attendance at the Army War College in 1972. Shortly before his graduation, he was reassigned to be the Army Staff Group Executive for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. For his outstanding performance in this important position, he was recognized with a second Legion of Merit and the Joint Service Commendation Medal.

In 1979, Joe Franklin became one of the first members of the Class of 1955 to be promoted to Brigadier General, and soon afterwards was selected to be the Commandant of Cadets at West Point. It was a turbulent period in the Military Academy’s history. A serious cheating scandal had brought intense scrutiny to the institution, and West Point was also preparing to graduate its first class with female cadets. With recommendations from a Blue-Ribbon panel, General Franklin worked with the Cadet Chairman of the Honor Committee to develop the initiatives that shaped new policies strengthening the Honor Code and Honor System. Another of his highly successful innovations was persuading the Army’s personnel center to assign one senior non-commissioned officer as the “Tac NCO” for each cadet battalion.

Following a tour of duty as Assistant Division Commander of the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii in 1982-83, General Franklin’s special talents earned him another call from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to take an important assignment as Chief of the Joint US Military Assistance and Advisory Group in Spain.

Spain was poised to become a member of the European Economic Community when he arrived. This new democracy had just entered NATO, and many critical diplomatic and military issues had to be addressed and resolved. Using his great interpersonal skills, General Franklin was instrumental in ensuring that Spain would become an important partner for peace. When his tour of duty ended, he was awarded Spain’s highest decoration for military service and the US Army Distinguished Service Medal.

Following his retirement from active duty in 1987, Joe Franklin entered the world of business in the private sector. Initially remaining in Spain, he began his service in the corporate world by forming a Spanish corporation, Franklin Sociedad Anonima, which consulted for US corporations seeking business in Spain, as well as for Spanish companies seeking business in the United States. In 1992, he was recruited to lead Frequency Electronics, Inc., located in New York. Serving as Chairman and CEO, he led FEI through a complex series of legal and administrative transactions that positioned the company to become a highly profitable and valuable contributor to the US defense, space, and telecommunications industries. He stepped down as CEO in 1999, but remains Chairman of the Board.

Building from the broad array of personal and professional skills he had honed through both his military service and his private business career, Joe Franklin made a conscious decision: he would turn his attention, and his impressive talents, to giving back to West Point. He began his contributions to the Association of Graduates in 1993 with service on the Alumni Support Committee. He was subsequently elevated to the Board of Trustees, appointed Chairman of the Alumni Support Committee, and was finally elected Vice Chairman of the AOG, where he served for four years. In this capacity, he was a driving force behind the Bicentennial Campaign for the Military Academy, helping structure, guide and lead the AOG development team that made the Bicentennial Campaign an unprecedented success: exceeding its $150 million goal by $75 million. He was also instrumental in orchestrating the many changes necessary to bring governance of the AOG into the 21st century and into compliance with the new statutes associated with not-for-profit organizations.

Thoughtful, forthright and modest, Joe Franklin is the epitome of a professional. He has repeatedly proven his dedication to the ideals of West Point in the 52 years since his graduation. As a Soldier, businessman, and leader of the Association of Graduates, he has made all graduates proud to call him a West Pointer. In short, Joe has been, is, and will continue to be a leader’s leader.

Accordingly, the Association of Graduates takes great pride in presenting the 2007 Distinguished Graduate Award to Joseph P. Franklin.

One Comment

  1. Posted November 23, 2017 at 1:51 am | Permalink

    RIP Gen. Franklin. Thanks for being there for me. I was a lowly cadet in 1979, walked on the Corps Squad wrestling team, munched up my back, and was in the pipeline to be medically discharged. You me with me twice during this process and were very compassionate. I only wish I’d had the foresight to check into you to thank you before you passed earlier in 2017. RIP.

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