Paul A. Franklin
Technical Sergeant
U. S. Army Air Corps
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 12/23/1943 - 04/15/1946
Radio Communications Specialist, 124th Field Artillery BN, 33rd Infantry Division

Paul was born in Elk Grove, Louisiana, in a company house of Arkansas-Louisiana Gas, his father's employer. He graduated from high school in Haughton in 1940, and by July had married. Paul worked for Triangle Drilling Company as a roustabout, describing it as hard work that shaped him up for the military service. "The basic training didn't bother me at all because I was plenty well in shape from all that work," he recalls. Although oil field work was considered essential to the war effort, Paul, knowing he would eventually be drafted, volunteered. "I knew that I had to go and I was wanting to go because the other guys had gone," he says. Entering the U.S. Army Air Forces, he trained in gunnery school but washed out because of an inner ear infection. Paul graduated from radio school. With a surplus of air personnel, however, he was transferred to the infantry. He sailed into the Pacific on a troop ship and recalls a "continuous line twenty-four hours a day going through that chow line." He went over as a replacement, landing in Manila and marching through the city where he saw "dead bodies in those old buildings that were cratered and bombed and blown up." Paul was transferred to the 124th Field Artillery Battalion, Thirty-Third Infantry Division, and placed in radio communication. He served six months on Luzon, and then another six months in the occupation of Japan. There he was sent to Tokyo as first sergeant at a prison that housed high-ranking Japanese army and naval officers as well as others, including Tokyo Rose, the propaganda broadcaster. He was on duty when Hideki Tojo, the former war minister, attempted suicide. Paul helped carry Tojo to an infirmary where he was kept alive until his execution. "We felt like just letting him lay there, you know," Paul says. He remained at the prison for three months before gaining enough points to be shipped home. As the ship neared Seattle at night, he trained his Japanese souvenir binoculars on a large neon sign. "Welcome Home" it read. "We all started hollering," he recalls. He was discharged at Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas at the rank of first sergeant. He worked for much of his career for the City of Shreveport as a radio technician, retiring on December 31, 1968. He then worked for Shreveport Communications for ten years.