Family says goodbye to Hammond soldier

An overflow crowd of family and friends of Pfc. Benny S. Franklin of Hammond, killed by a land mine in Afghanistan Oct. 7, gathered Monday at the Emmanuel Seventh-day Adventist Church to offer final tributes to the soldier.


Frankin, 19, was remembered as a responsible young man dedicated to his family who "wanted to do something with his life."

Lawrence LaBee, a senior at Hammond High School who served on the Junior ROTC color guard team with Franklin, said of Franklin that he played an important role in the unit after he joined the group just prior to his junior year.

Members of the high school's Junior ROTC unit presented a floral arrangement and a plaque honoring Franklin to his mother and stepfather, Wanda Franklin Tillis and Charles Tillis, Jr., and another classmate, Tabitha Showers, sang a solo in his honor.

Leading the funeral services were the Rev. Ennis V. Johnson and the Rev. Donald Bell.

Bell, who said he has "pastored" members of Franklin's family for many years, delivered the principal address.

Speaking after the service, Bell, pastor of the New Life Outreach Ministry, described Franklin as well-respected, intelligent, friendly, popular and said he had positive goals in life.

"Benny Franklin wanted to do something with his life, and that's why he joined the Army," Bell said. He said that Franklin planned to further his education after fulfilling his military obligation.

Said Bell: "Benny Franklin didn't want to waste his life, he didn't want to fail in life, and he chose a route that he felt would lead to success. He wanted to help his family and he wanted to do the right thing. His heart was in the right place."

During the funeral, Bell challenged those in attendance to trust "in the will of God.

"God commands us to turn to Him with our problems … in our grief, sorrow, hurt and pain, you should know that Jesus still cares," he said.

Franklin, 19, a member of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division, stepped on a land mine while on patrol with his unit near Gereshk in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was a radio telephone operator for a forward observer team assigned to A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery.

Von: 18 October 2005, by VIC COUVILLION

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