Tommy Ray Franks (born June 17, 1945) is a retired General in the United States Army. He previously served as the Commander of the United States Central Command, overseeing United States Armed Forces operations in a 25-country region including the Middle East.
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- We don't do body counts.
American Soldier (2004)
- To all who serve... and those who love them.
- Another hallway led to a green steel door. "This is the execution chamber," the officer said. "The day of the execution, we take the man through this door." He opened the green door, and we blinked at the bright lights inside. A big chair filled the room. I could smell leather. "All right, boys," he said. "Line up." The kids made a straight line that led out the green door, then moved ahead, one at a time, to sit in the big wooden chair. "This is the electric chair, Tommy Ray," my dad explained. "It's where murderers are executed." The boys inched forward. Some sat longer in the chair than others. Executed meant killed, that much I knew. "This is the ultimate consequence for the ultimate act of evil," my father told the troop. When all the boys had sat in the chair, it was my turn. I reached up and felt the smooth wood, the leather straps with cold metal buckles. There was a black steel cap dangling up there like a lamp without a bulb. "Up you go, Tommy Ray," Dad said, hoisting me into the chair. The boys were staring at me. But I wasn't even a little bit afraid. My father stood right beside me. I could feel his warm hand next to the cool metal buckle. As the school bus rumbled out of the prison parking lot that afternoon, I stared back at the high walls. I had learned another important lesson. A consequence was what followed what you did. If you did good things, you'd be rewarded with further good things. If you broke the law, you'd have to pay the price. I have never forgotten that lesson.
- p. 8
- When I was six, we moved to the small town of Stratford, about fifteen miles northeast of Wynnewood. My father had worked as a banker, a grain farmer, a fix-it man, and a mechanic. Now he was ready for a new line of work. When I was young, his restless streak seemed perfectly normal. A few years later, I realized that he was an optimistic dreamer, convinced that the next job or business would make us rich. And the fact is that my dad was good at everything he took on. Maybe too good. There wasn't a refrigerator, an outboard motor, a gas or diesel engine that he couldn't repair. If somebody drove over a backfiring John Deere Model 60 tractor to have Ray Franks "take a little look at the damn timing chain," my father would rebuild the engine. And if they'd shaken hands on a price of ten dollars for the job, he would not accept a nickel more, even if he'd spent fifteen dollars on spare parts.
- p. 9
- Bill Cohen had a will-earned reputation as a thoughtful, decisive Secretary of Defense. When the staff lit up the plasma screens and ran the tapes of the Bright Star exercise, showing how the friendly coalition "Greenland" had defeated the aggressors of "Orangeland", Cohen asked all the right questions. He seemed especially impressed that we had assembled the system using commercially available hardware. Our staff officers and sergeants were on their toes. They answered all the secretary's questions, and he left with a smile on his face. I was proud of the command post- and of the young men and women who had made it such a success.
- p. 185
- Sitting back in the hard plastic chair on the hotel roof, I reflected on that talk I'd given to the CENTCOM intelligence staff the previous Friday. America was in deep shock, reeling from the images of airliners smashing into buildings and those proud towers collapsing like flaming tinsel. Would my fellow citizens now be persuaded to abandon their hard-won individual freedoms to earn a bit more security in a clearly insecure world? As I stood up, another thought struck me. Today is like Pearl Harbor. The world was one way before today, and will never be that way again. We stand at a crease in history.
- p. 246
- Later that evening, with exhaustion setting in and nothing left to do but wait for clearance to fly, Cathy and I took the aircrew to dinner; the members of our traveling staff stayed behind, chained to their phones and computers. We walked through the quiet waterfront to the lamp-lit, sandstone-block courtyard of the Mylos Taverna. As we filed to our corner table, the normally-effusive chatter of the Greek patrons dropped to a whisper. I scanned the nearby tables; faces everywhere were drawn with sadness. Yiannis, our usually-smiling waiter, approached silently and shook my hand as if at a funeral. "Everyone is so sorry, General," the man said.
- p. 246
- As the night passed, Rifle updated me on the readiness of our forces, the locations of our aircraft carrier battle groups, and the "Global power" timelines for missions by B-2 stealth bombers flying from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. I had received an intelligence alert that as many as thirty additional terrorist strikes were possible worldwide. But there had been no more attacks... so far. Maybe this was because we'd buttoned up, sealing our vulnerabilities by going to Threat Con Delta. By now, CNN was running tape of President Bush flying back to Andrews and landing in Marine One on the White House lawn. The immediate crisis was over: the President was back in the Oval Office, the Secretary of Defense was in the wounded Pentagon. America was putting on her "game face". I was proud of my country.
- p. 247
- The family plots are close together in the sparse shade. My father, Ray. My mother, Lorene. Aunt Mildred and Uncle Bob, Docie, Betty, Johnny and Doris Jean. All of them there, all of them at rest. Seeing my father's grave, I smile, remembering something he told me when I was a teenager, conflicted over some long-forgotten crisis. "What do you think you should do about it, Tommy Ray?" He'd asked. "I dunno," I'd said. "It's all so confusing." He looked at me with a gentle smile. "Remember this, son. You don't necessarily need to know anything to have an opinion." Since that day, I've been what you might call opinionated, although as an adult, I like to believe I've earned the opinions I have.
- p. 561
- Colin Powell said recently that he was disappointed that some of the intelligence on Iraq's WMD program was "inaccurate and wrong and in some cases deliberately misleading." That, of course, is the nature of human intelligence. The issue is not whether the source of the intelligence information was telling the truth, but whether George Tenet, Colin Powell, and President George W. Bush believed that the information was true. I believe they did. I know I did. And I do not regret my role in disarming Iraq and removing the Baathist regime.
- p. 562