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Robert Leonard Franklin


Franklin was appointed the rank of Flight Officer upon graduated Navigator School. He retired from the USAF with the rank of 1st LT.

He flew 32 combat missions as a navigator at age 19. He didn't even know how to drive a car (but did learn when he was Officer of The Day and given a Jeep to drive for the day. He had to figure it out.)



  • Marvin Holmes

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 466th Bomb Group

  • Richard Hulette

    Military | First Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 466th Bomb Group

  • Richard Huyck

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 466th Bomb Group

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Units served with

  • 466th Bomb Group

    466th Bomb Group

    The 466th Bomb Group flew B-24 Liberators from Attlebridge, Norfolk, during the last year of the war in Europe. The Group flew 232 missions in the course of the year and celebrated the 100th one by inviting local people onto the base to mark the...

  • 787th Bomb Squadron


  • 41-24109 Ready & Willing/Silver Streak

    B-24 Liberator
    Flew on the 1st Aug 43 Ploesti Mission with the 93rd BG, pilot John R Roche, returned safely to Libya. Returned to ETO. Assigned to the 466th BG to serve as their Assembly Ship.

  • 42-51094 Gran Slam

    B-24 Liberator
    CORRECT SERIAL IS 42-51094


  • 702

    5 November 1944

  • 707

    9 November 1944

  • 709

    10 November 1944

  • 720

    21 November 1944

  • 725

    26 November 1944

  • 738

    5 December 1944

  • 741

    6 December 1944

  • 746

    11 December 1944

  • 757

    23 December 1944

  • 8th Air Force 760

    24 December 1944
    1. Decision. ...

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Associated Place

  • Attlebridge

    Military site : airfield
    Attlebridge was constructed for RAF use and completed to that standard in 1942. However, with news that it was to be assigned to the American Air Force, the runways were extended and additional hardstandings and outbuildings constructed for the heavy...


Event Location Date
Born Duncan, OK 20 April 1925
Lived in Seminole, OK, USA 1944

7 Franklin Street, R.I.

Graduated Navigator School San Marcos, TX 20 June 1944

Class 44-G
Rated as Navigator
Appointed to the rank of Flight Officer

Departed for the ETO New York, NY 6 October 1944

aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam

Assigned to the 466th BG Attlebridge, UK 19 October 1944
1st Combat Mission Karlsruhe, Germany 5 November 1944

Our instructor pilot (flying in the co-pilot's seat, Henry Hull.) told the gunners of the necessity of staying alert. They, in fact, all of us, would see more airplanes today than we had ever seen in the air at one time. How right he was! Bombers were swarms of bees. There was always a chance of collision. Ships came at us for every direction.
The aircraft we were assigned to was "Gran Slam" and we flew it on subsequent missions. This day our primary target was Metz, France, but if it was obscured we would go to Karlsruhe, Germany and bomb the marshalling yards there. When we reached Metz there was a solid undercast, so we circled and circled for about 30 minutes, and then, unbeknownst to me, we struck out for Karlsruhe. There was plenty of flak waiting for us there. I was one frightened and confused navigator! Three aircraft were lost on that mission. One was Lt. Nelson's. His ship crashed about seven miles from Attlebridge on the return flight. It ran out of fuel. The rumor was no one on board knew how to transfer fuel. Nelson and his co-pilot survived, but most of the crew were killed (historian's note: three men were KIA, and seven were injured). The two were badly injured and spent about six months in the hospital. Our crew had trained and then shipped over with them. It was their first and only mission.

Died Perkins, OK 13 May 2016

The Greatest Generation lost one of its own when Robert Leonard (Bob) Franklin made his transition on May 13, 2016. Bob was born April 30, 1925 in Duncan, Oklahoma. The son of Leonard (Frank) and Alma Franklin, he had two sisters, Irene and Loretta. Bob was moved with the family at the age of four to Seminole where he grew up, graduating from Seminole High School in 1943. He was concerned that he might be drafted to serve in World War II before graduation since he wanted to get his diploma before enlisting in the Army Air Corps.

He did get to graduate and by 1944 found himself with the 8th Air Force in Attlebridge, England. Bob was a B-24 navigator and had flown 32 missions at the age of 19. He was injured once, was awarded a Certificate of Valor, earned five Air Medals and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. His last mission was April 16, 1945, about two weeks before his 20th birthday.

After separation from the service with a Reserve Commission, he entered Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University) where he was a member of Kappa Sig fraternity. He was recalled to active duty in 1947 and became First Lieutenant during his second tour of duty. Discharged in 1953, Bob completed his degree in history and government at the University of Oklahoma in 1955. He worked in the Defense Mapping Agency Aerospace Center in St. Louis, Missouri until retirement. While there he became an accomplished artist, specializing in portraiture. Bob was also an avid golfer.

Buried Seminole, OK 16 May 2016

Maple Grove Cemetery
Seminole, Seminole County, Oklahoma, USA


Date Contributor Update
09 September 2020 02:57:25 466thHistorian Changes to highest rank, biography, awards, events, person associations, aircraft associations and mission associations
466th BG Archives - unpublished memoir of Robert L. Franklin

Date Contributor Update
30 July 2017 22:59:19 466thHistorian Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nickname, nationality, highest rank, role, events, person associations, unit associations, place associations and media associations

Loretta Franklin Jones - Sister
"Officers of Attlebridge" - 466th BG publication 1945