William is buried at:
Beverly National Cemetery
916 Bridgeboro Rd.
Beverly, Burlington County, New Jersey
Plot: Section U Site 518
… EO3 William T. Franke NSA Da Nang (WIA 25Dec69) his death was 2/20/1969
CIRCUMSTANCES OF HIS DEATH
Petty Officer William T. Franke was a member of the United States Navy during the Vietnam War. He was from Williamstown and was one of 11 children born to Al and Wanda Franke.
The Franke family had a tradition of military service. Al and Wanda served in World War II, as did four of Franke’s siblings during the Vietnam War.
When Franke arrived in Vietnam, his brother Albert, “Buddy”, was already there in Da Nang. They saw each other frequently. When Buddy left Vietnam on Dec. 23, 1968, and while en route back to the states, the family received word that Franke had been wounded and was being flown to the Philadelphia Naval Hospital. When he arrived on Jan. 14, 1969, the family learned the horrible truth.
Franke had not been wounded but had broken his neck in a diving accident. Water had filled his lungs giving him pneumonia, causing him to lose the use of one lung and damaging the other lung to the point that he would have to stay on a breathing machine. The doctors said that he would live only a week or two. Franke passed away on Feb. 20, 1969.
We served together. I volunteered first, so that he wouldn't go to the Nam and try to be a hero. He volunteered for Brother Duty, 6 months after I arrived in Da Nang. He went to SA HUYEN in southern I Corps. On his bulldozer, helped build an air field, and was responsible for opening up an underground VC hospital complex. He did the John Wayne thing firing at the enemy from atop his steel charger and survived.
Later, he returned to Da Nang and we spent valuable time together. We worked at times out of Deep Water Piers in Da Nang. We were hit with 122mm rockets at 1:30 AM on 17 Nov 68, my birthday. We were both working near the pier area. Several Americans were killed, and many Vietnamese and Korean civilians were killed and injured.
It took us three days of frantic searching through the different casualty lists before we found each other, neither of us had been hurt.
I left 12/20/68, he was critically injured 12/21/68. He never recovered, but did what he had wanted to do...serve his country. That he did very well.
His Brother Bud remembers.
Posted by: Chaplain (Colonel) Albert Franke III