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North Carolina Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Bobby C. Franklin

Died August 20, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

38, of Mineral Bluff, Ga.; assigned to the 210th Military Police Company, Army National Guard, Murphy N.C.; killed by an improvised explosive device Aug. 20 in Baghdad, Iraq.

N.C. Guard soldier killed was prison worker at home

Associated Press

Family members of a North Carolina National Guard soldier who died in Iraq said they knew something was wrong even before the military came to their door to give them the bad news.

Staff Sgt. Bobby Franklin, 38, a member of the 210th Military Police Company based in Murphy, was killed Aug. 20 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle, according to the military.

Franklin’s death marks the first time in more than three decades that the North Carolina National Guard has lost a soldier to hostile fire, guard officials said.

Two other soldiers with Franklin were injured. By the night of Aug. 20, Franklin’s family knew something was wrong.

“The other two guys that were always with him had already called in and checked with their wives,” said Tim Nicholson, Franklin’s brother-in-law. Franklin’s wife, Brenda, didn’t receive a call.

By the morning of the 21st, soldiers had arrived in Mineral Bluff, Ga., the town just across the border where the Franklins lived to tell Brenda what happened.

When not in the guard, Franklin worked at the Carlton Colwell Probation and Detention Center in Blairsville, Ga. He supervised inmates working on construction projects in the community.

When the reservist was called up, his co-workers made sure he periodically received care packages filled with comforts from home.

Family members tried to talk the longtime reservist into calling it quits last year as the nation’s war of words with Iraq increased.

“He was within a year of retirement,” Nicholson said. “That’s why he went back this time.”

More than 1,300 North Carolina Guardsmen are on active duty, many overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers in his unit are trying to make sense of what happened to Franklin, a father of two children.

“Their morale is low,” said Kim Johnson, the family coordinator for the 210th. “They feel guilty they’re not home to give Bobby the burial he deserves. It’s hard for them to focus on their mission.”

Georgia man killed in explosion in Iraq

ATLANTA — A Georgia man was killed and two other soldiers from the same North Carolina National Guard unit were wounded Aug. 20 in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle.

Staff Sgt. Bobby Franklin, 38, of Mineral Bluff, and the two wounded men — who were not identified — were assigned to the 210th Military Police Company of Murphy, N.C.

The bombing happened in the Karkah district of Baghdad late Aug. 20, according to U.S. Central Command. Franklin was from the 1st Armored Division.

The wounded soldiers weren’t seriously injured, and one already has returned to duty, said Capt. Robert N. Carver, spokesman for the North Carolina National Guard.

Carver said the family asked reporters to not contact them.

“This is the time to ask all North Carolinians to not only express their gratitude for Staff Sgt. Bobby Franklin’s service, but to pray for his family, his wife, his son and his daughter,” North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley said.

— Associated Press

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