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Richard Franko on Front Lines as Green Beret

May 29, 2013

Story by Dale Long, Director of Media Relations

The challenges are numerous for Richard Franko as an elite United States Army Special Forces Officer, a Green Beret, serving his country amid conflicts and high tensions in the Middle East and South America.

             Franko with Award
  Lucas Award Winner: Richard Franko, a 2007 civil engineering alumnus, received this year’s Jess Lucas Alumni Leadership Award. (Photo by James Garber)
 

For example, soon after joining Operation Iraqi Freedom, Franko’s 591st Sapper Company came under fire during a routine route clearing in Mosul, Iraq. A lieutenant colonel serving as a battalion commander was killed, along with his security detachment, and an Iraqi interpreter.

Franko watched as Iraqi Army partners heroically attempted to save the lives of the U.S. soldiers from a burning vehicle and returned fire on the enemy (their fellow country citizens). They joined with U.S. forces in completing the mission, moved to America in 2010, and became important role players for the Army Special Forces unit at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

“I work with a small group of people who are really committed to what they’re doing,” says Franko, who related the story to Rose-Hulman’s residence life staff members while receiving this year’s Jess Lucas Alumni Leadership Award. The honor recognizes former residence life student leaders for distinguished career and personal achievements.

The 2007 civil engineering alumnus remembers once sitting among the group, serving as a resident assistant and sophomore advisor. He was also a four-year Army ROTC cadet, commander of the Wabash Battalion cadet unit, and was a national ROTC George C. Marshall Award winner.

Not surprisingly, Franko’s honorable military career has continued after his commissioning. He was an honor graduate of the engineer basic officer leadership and Army Sapper leader courses, received the Steel Order of the de Fleury Medal for exemplary platoon leadership as a junior engineer battalion leader, and recently was a honors graduate of the Special Forces qualification course and Army Ranger School.

As a Green Beret, Franko is prepared to lead missions dealing with combatting terrorism, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, and information operations—on call during peacetime, conflict, and war.

“The training scenarios I have been exposed to have progressively become more and more realistic and demanding. However, none of them have been as demanding as the day-in, day-out grind of a Rose-Hulman student, and I am grateful for that each day as an Army officer," he says. "Like the Green Berets, Rose-Hulman's residence life staff is comprised of a small group of individuals who truly care about their mission to help the students attain their degree, while becoming better engineers and leaders.”