USS Franklin

Fifth ship of the Essex class — fifth ship to bear Benjamin Franklin’s name…

On the 19th of March, 1945, her crew would write a story for the ages as they were tested in the crucible.


Today, like so many of their generation, the already small band of survivors of that day continue to dwindle. This coming March they will hold their reunion at Lodge of the Ozarks (Branson, MO). If you are a former member of the Big Ben, they’re waiting for you. If you are a student of naval history, or even just history — they will welcome you with open arms and warm hearts. Interested? Here’s the gouge:

Contact for Questions:
Sam Rhodes 772-334-0366 or
Beth Conard Rowland (daughter of crewman) 740-524-0024 (please leave message)

Registration closes 1 March, 2010.


And all you former Santa Fe crew? I’ll bet they would especially love to see you guys too…


h/t Xformed

Posted by SteelJaw in History, Navy

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  • an old steam snipe

    Is the reunion this year or 5 years from now in 2015?

  • Getting ahead of myself in anticipating the 70th anniversary… 🙂 Heading fixed – thanks!
    w/r, SJS

  • Beth Conard Rowland

    THANK YOU, U.S.N.I., for posting, along with all other sites. Yes, we welcome everyone and would love to see crew from USS Santa Fe, USS Pittsburgh (who took the Franklin in tow away from Japan until she got back under her own power), USS Miller, USS Hunt, USS Laffey, USS Intrepid, etc. so many ships that rescued so many men from the ocean and from the flames and smoke on the USS Franklin. Sadly, some crewmen don’t have a way to travel or financially struggle and therefore, do not even contact us. If you know of a Franklin sailor in that situation, please ask them to contact us anyway. We may find some way help out or at least let them know that they are not forgotten by the Franklin Family and be sure they are on our mailing list. (Often, they have not been in contact and we do not know where they are). Again, Thanks to all support of our USS Franklin loved ones! Lest we forget!
    Fair Winds

  • My father, Gilbert Perry Childers, was on the USS Ben Franklin. Please email me any information you have that might possibly help me as I’m fighting to get his PTSD recognized and compensated by the VA. My number is 702-567-3404.

    Thank you.

    Kathi Sherburne

  • Too late to the party


    My father, a Marine recon scout in the 1st Marines during WWII, wrote his own memoirs of the war. In it, he recounts being on a troop transport as the fleet mustered for the Okinawa invasion in March of ’45 and watching the Big Ben crew fight the fires from the attacks for days before it was towed back to the U.S. for repairs. Marines and Navy kid each other relentlessly about each other’s fighting ability but there was nothing but respect in my father’s account of the brave “swabbies” (hey, he was a Marine after all) trying to keep their ship afloat. Just proves there were heroes in every branch of the service. Thank you so much for your service and sacrifice. I hope you had a great time in Branson.

  • jcfrench

    My cousin Donald Cross was killed on the USS Franklin April 19 th 1945.
    Any info related to him will be appreciated.
    Was it a bomb or a suicide aircraft that hit the franklin that day?

  • J Springer

    jcfrench: Condolences for your cousin’s loss. I suggest you pick up my book INFERNO (written by Joseph A Springer) from Amazon. If you wish, you may write to me at “[email protected]” and I’ll be happy to sign the book personally. BTW, your cousin was KIA on March 19, 1945, the day Franklin was bombed by a Japanese Judy bomber.

  • Robert Cunningham, Jr.

    My father, Robert Cunningham, Sr. was on the Franklin. He lied about his age when he joined, he was 17, and they placed him on the Franklin. He spent almost a year onboard, and saw action. The authorities removed him from the ship for being underage shortly before the fateful day when the ship was almost sunk. He passed away in 1994, but I would love to know if there is another reunion. I live in Chicago, and would love to attend and meet the remaining survivors. I know one name my father talked about a lot was “Frank Ciliberto”…i’m not sure if this man is still alive, but if anyone knew him he was my father’s buddy on board. Anyone can reach me at (312)882-8862. God bless and thank all our servicemen who make our country what it is.
    Robert Cunningham, Jr.

  • Sage Dunlap Chase

    Anyone alive who might remember my father, Lt. Jg David R. Dunlap, Jr. from Mobile, AL? He was killed on the Franklin on Mar. 19th 1945 leaving a wife and twin children born six weeks earlier.
    He saw us once, in late Jan., while the ship was being repaired in Bremerton, WA. Left a huge hole in the lives of all his family…