By Patrick B. McGuigan
Retired Gen. Tommy Franks, USA, has coordinated a successful campaign to raise money from rural and small town residents in southwest Oklahoma to benefit “Oklahoma Strong,” the joint effort between Gov. Mary Fallin and the United Way of Central Oklahoma. The program was created to address long-term needs in the wake of the late May storms around the city area.
Supporting Franks in the effort was another Oklahoma legend, Gen. Rita Aragon.
The $35,000 gift came from Gen. Franks and his Youth Leadership Institute, from money raised over Memorial Day weekend in Hobart at Frank’s annual Celebration of Freedom.
Warren Martin, Gen. Franks aide, made the presentation to Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb. Lamb’s office explained, “The money was raised to support the tornado victims in Oklahoma. General Franks chose to donate the money to Governor Fallin’s Oklahoma Strong Fund to help long-term problems of the May tornadoes.”
Lamb, in comments at a Blue Room meeting last week (June 4), told The City Sentinel, “Gen. Tommy Franks is an American hero, and an Oklahoma icon. After all his achievements and the things he accomplished on the national and world stage, we are glad Gen. Franks came home to Hobart and to Oklahoma. That’s who he is. Gen. Franks chose Oklahoma, and actions like this contribution demonstrate the values and principles that have made him the leader that he is.
“I’m pleased to accept this contribution on behalf of Gov. Mary Fallin, who couldn’t be here. This contribution will be put to immediate good use.”
Warren Martin, who runs Franks’ programs, said the money was intended both for Moore residents and others impacted by the wave of storms in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area in May. He said, “We are dedicated to investing in Oklahoma, and in the values that make Oklahoma strong.”
The gift resulted from the May 24-27 Celebration of Freedom in Hobart. A silent auction and other fundraising activities raised the money.
Gen. Rita Aragon, USAF (ret.) – affectionately dubbed “the little general” for her diminutive stature – visited with Martin and Lt. Gov. Lamb before the presentation of Frank’s donation to Lamb.
Aragon serves as Secretary of Veterans Affairs in Gov. Mary Fallin’s cabinet. A former school teacher, she was the first woman in history to achieve the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Air National Guard.
Aragon told The City Sentinel that a group of U.S. military veterans now incarcerated in a state prison took the initiative to make an Afghan blanket they donated to be auctioned at the Celebration. Proceeds from that effort were included in the money given to Oklahoma Strong.
Now in retirement, Gen. Franks and his wife, Cathryn, now divide their time living in Tampa, Florida, and on their ranch in Roosevelt, Oklahoma. After he left the U.S. Army, Gen. Franks founded the museum in his hometown. The museum organizes an annual Four Star Leadership development program for young Oklahomans.
Franks’ lengthy military service stretched from the Vietnam War era to the Second Gulf War. He led the combined U.S. Central Command as commander-in-chief in both Operating Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq). His autobiography, “American Soldier” was a New York Times bestseller.
Oklahoma generals Tommy Franks and Rita Aragon allied in support of “Oklahoma Strong”
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