SPRINGFIELD, IL (02/27/2014)(readMedia)-- Lt. Col. Tim W. Franklin of Springfield, Ill., is hanging up his uniform after more than 33 years of military service. Franklin has served as the full-time program coordinator for the Illinois Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) since 2006 and will continue to serve as the training director for the Illinois ESGR as a volunteer.
"I believe in what ESGR does for the members of the National Guard and Reserve, their employers and families, so I look forward to continuing with the organization as a volunteer," said Franklin.
Franklin began his military career as a photography specialist when he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He was assigned to the 62nd Tactical Reconaisance Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. He received his commission in the Air Force in 1985 through Officer Training School.
"It wasn't always easy having him away as part of his service in the Guard, but it's made me very proud to have a father in the military, and has given me an even greater respect for other men and women who serve," said Amy Franklin, the oldest of the Franklin children.
Franklin served as a member of the Oregon Air National Guard and also in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, first in the Field Artillery and then with the 129th Public Affairs Detachment. Since 1998, he has served as a member of the Illinois Army National Guard.
"When my wife and I first met, we were both members of the Air Force, so she already knew about military service and how demanding it can be at times. I have had to miss my share of birthdays, holidays and other family events over the years," said Franklin. "However, like all of us who serve in uniform, I try my best to keep that balance between military service and family life. Sometimes I've been more successful at it than other times during the course of my career, depending on what the military demands were at the time."
Franklin deployed twice during his National Guard career, including Operation Joint Guardian in Kosovo from 1997 to 1998 and Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan with Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VIII as the task force public affairs officer from 2008 to 2009.
"Lieutenant Colonel Franklin was good to his Soldiers. He shared their concerns and listened to their problems, helping in any way he could," said Nathan Hastings, a former public affairs sergeant with the Illinois Army National Guard who deployed to Afghanistan with Franklin as a broadcast journalist.
"I always felt like he watched over our group in Afghanistan as if we were his own children," said Hastings.
Franklin said the National Guard has opened up a lot of opportunities that he may not have had as a civilian.
"The best part of serving has to be the people you serve with and the unique opportunities and experiences the military and the Guard offers," said Franklin. "I have had a great career and have met and served with some incredible people, both as an enlisted member and as an officer. I have made many lifelong friendships with those I have served with in the Guard. I am sure this is true of other professions, but I think it is especially true among the military and the Guard. During my time in the military, I have been to countries on every continent except Africa and Antarctica. I think those types of opportunities give Guardsmen a world perspective that many of our citizens don't have."
Franklin was part of the largest overseas deployment of Illinois Army National Guard troops in 2008, when the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Urbana, Ill., deployed to Afghanistan. Nearly 3,000 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers augmented Task Force Phoenix VIII.
"It was an honor to have Tim Franklin as a part of Task Force Phoenix VIII," said retired Brig. Gen. Steven P. Huber of Byron, Ill., the combined joint task force commander for Task Force Phoenix VIII. "He played an integral part of my command. He was one whom I could always rely upon to keep me on message and it was fun doing videos with him for those back home. He is a team player and I am glad to call him a friend."
Franklin said he didn't really have any profound advice, but stated that if you are joining the military for rank, awards and recognition, you are in it for the wrong reasons. Those things will come to you if you are in it for the right reasons.
Erin Franklin, the younger of the two Franklin children gave some indication as to where you may find the retired Franklin.
"When the weather is nice my dad likes to sit out on the porch, watching the birds eat from his feeder, a cigar in one hand, a home-brewed beer by his side, and listening to music like Bob Marley or the Beatles or some jazz," she said.