Lance Corporal Franklin “Frankie” Watson—December 2012 Shipment Honoree
Serving Operation Enduring Freedom
VONORE, Tenn. (WVLT)–A local Marine from Vonore was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan. Lance Corporal Franklin “Frankie” Watson was with assigned to Company D, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Marine Division, and Marine Forces Reserve, based out of Knoxville, Tennessee. LCPL Watson was sweeping for IED’s when his unit was attacked. Watson was 21 years old.
“Frankie” was a 2008 graduate and star athlete of Sequoyah High School and resident of Vonore, Tennessee. He was also a 2009 graduate of the Cleveland State Police Academy and attended college there to study Criminal Justice. He was employed at the Madisonville Police Department and he began his law enforcement career as a part time deputy with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. Frankie Watson enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve in 2010. As both a U.S. Marine and a law enforcement officer, Frankie Watson was committed to bringing the rules and the unruly into alignment. Peacekeeping and finding a solution — both as a Marine and a police officer — were at the core of Watson’s being.
His family said Watson was one of those rare people everybody seemed to love.
His cousins, Allie and Miriam Watson told me, “God knew what He was doing when He made him. That’s for sure. He made a soldier. He made a brave young man with a heart of gold.”
“He always smiled. He was always full of spunk. He was competitive and he seemed like he always wanted to be the best at everything,” said Watson’s uncle, Norman.
That competitive drive is why a family friend was lead to say.
I asked ‘Frankie why’d you choose the Marines?’ and he said ‘I wanted to go through the hardest one I could get in,’ Russell said.
Strong and athletic, Watson was also a Madisonville police officer and Monroe County sheriff’s deputy. His cousins told me his physical prowess made him an impressive Marine. His heart made him an impressive man.
Miriam said, “He’s one of the bravest men I’ve ever met in my entire life.”
Another cousin Randy Nash added, “He definitely had good character. You don’t find a lot of people like that anymore.”
Barely in Afghanistan for three months, Watson, a combat engineer in charge of disarming IED’s was shot in the chest during an attack on his unit.
Allie tried to hold back tears as she said, “Everybody thought he was going to come home. And he’s never going to come home anymore. And he called and he said he wanted to come home so bad, and God heard him. God took him home.”
When I asked them what they loved and remember most about Frankie each of his family and friends told me it was his smile and his ability to light up the room.
“Everybody that knows him says he’s got the best smile in the world,” said Russell.
“As soon as you got around him, it doesn’t matter how bad you were hurting, or bad you were upset or how bad your day was, he’d do something to make you laugh that’s for sure,” added Allie and Miriam.
His aunt Laurie called Frankie a hero.
“He was a man of honor. Always smiled, he was always happy,” she said.
And as they remember the hero they lost, family and friends wish they could have seen him one last time.
“I love him to death and I wish I could tell him that again.”
“I love him and I miss him and I wish I had got to tell him goodbye.”
But like so many families of those who serve, they’ll never have the chance.
The Watsons asked us to post this note. Miriam wrote it after she heard the news about her cousin.
“It takes a real man to do what you’ve done. You’ve not only inspired your friends and family, but the world. You showed them that you’re brave enough, to risk your own life, to give us freedom. You were our hero before you left, and you still will be. You mean everything in this world to us, and you’ll be missed so much. That great personality of yours, that beautiful smile; everything. You were pretty much my brother! You’re truly a great young man, who had a brave heart. You stand out, over so many people in this world, Frankie. You had a wonderful heart, and put it to great use! Some people come into our lives and leave footprints in our hearts and we are never ever the same again. You left footprints in my heart, that will always be there. You’re in a much better place that this, and with a man who is going to make everything better for you. I know you wouldn’t want to see me with tears streaming down my face, so I may cry, but I’m going to keep smiling because that’s what you would want, and I’m going to do exactly what you would hope for, no matter how sad I am, or how much I cry. Although this is my “goodbye” letter, goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I’ll miss you, until we meet again! So, when God is ready for me to see you again, I’ll be ready. I love you more than anything in this world, Frankie, and you will be missed!”
Local 8 Now (source – no longer available)